A World of Antibodies at your Fingertips

(March 6th, 2012) Antibodypedia is the world's most complete database of antibodies against human proteins. But it is much more than just a database, it is a virtual laboratory that teaches you all the details of your favourite antibody, from protocols to troubleshoots.

It all began in September 2008, when Antibodypedia.com, developed within the EC 6th Framework Programme Proteome Binders, was first released. Interestingly, the open access database and its sister website, the Protein Atlas Initiative, are the spawn of the Human Antibody Initiative, which itself is part of an even larger research program called the Human Proteome Organization. The latter aims at “fostering international proteomic initiatives to better understand human disease”. A dozen of other projects involving proteome research, like the Plasma Proteome Project (PPP), Human Liver Proteome Project (HLPP) or the Human Brain Proteome Project (HBPP) can also be found on this website.

"What's the point of Antibodypedia.com?" you may ask. The answer is in the title of an article by Katie Cottingham from 2008: “Antibodypedia seeks to answer the question: 'How good is that antibody?'”

The point is clear and simple: Antibodypedia will help you find all the information you need to make a good decision about what antibody to use, how to use it, and where to get it. And this makes sense because, as anyone using antibodies knows, it is not an easy art, and the more you know about someone else’s experience with that particular antibody the more likely you are to succeed.

This is exactly what makes Antibodypedia much more than just an antibody database, it provides lots of supporting information. Here you can get actual data, results from immunohistochemistry, western blots, protein arrays and immunofluorescence staining, which will help you determine if your selected antibody works well, or if you perhaps should look for another one.

And there is more, as Christopher Surridge, Chief Editor and Associate Publisher for Nature Protocols, who oversees Antibodypedia, explains: "We also identify research articles in which particular antibodies have been used." Relevant articles are made available on the website and "we allow any user to deposit data about the functioning of an antibody, independent of the provider", he says.

This approach is actually serving to bring new life to otherwise unknown research. "It is liberating a whole series of experimental data normally not made available, control experiments that you do before you do your actual research experiment. Like the one that you do to check whether the antibody is functioning. This is control data that never makes it to a research paper… (but) this is very important data". He adds, "We are trying to publish this material so that less research time and funding is effectively wasted by doing the exact same thing", over and over again. Nice thinking.

So what can a researcher do at Antibodypedia.com? Surridge explains: "If a researcher needs an antibody against a protein, he/she can discover all antibodies that are claimed to be specific to the target protein. He/she can find both the providers information about the antibody, see what other researchers have used these antibodies for and check out data uploaded by independent researchers. All of which gives him/her all the information he/she needs to select the antibody that will be most effective in his/her research."

Currently, there are details of about 200,000 antibodies already stored in Antibodypedia, and according to Christopher Surridge, "we hope to increase this dramatically over the next year". If this number didn’t knock your socks off yet, here is another piece of information: all the antibodies found in Antibodypedia account for a rather impressive percentage of the human genome. "The other way to look at this is to look at all of the genes of the human genome and see for how many of those gene products there is an antibody against. At the moment we have at least one antibody against 87% of the human genes", Surridge points out.

Besides increasing the number of human antibodies, future plans include moving out of the human realm and into the world of mice. Surridge explains, "We are hoping, within the next year, to include all mouse proteins as well." This would make Antibodypedia the world's largest repository of antibody information for mice and men.

Frederick Gruber

Photo: GFAP (GA5) Mouse mAb (Alexa Fluor® 594 Conjugate) #8152 by Cell Signaling Technology

Last Changes: 08.03.2012