US company One Cell Systems has been awarded a government grant to develop a novel approach for identifying hybridoma cells that produce antigen-specific antibodies.
The award, for just over $500,000 (€448,000), will be used to develop an assay format based on single cell gel microdrop (GMD) encapsulation technology and fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) to isolate cells producing proteins of interest. Since secreted molecules rapidly dissociate from the originating cell, isolation of individual cells based on specificity of secreted proteins is not currently possible.
A key component of One Cell's assay involves anchoring the antigen specific antibody against the protein of interest to the agarose GMD matrix, where it functions as a capture molecule. Secreted antibodies that interact with the anchored protein antigen are detected with a fluorescent probe and the hybridoma cells that produce them can be isolated using FACS.
Currently, hybridoma selection from a mixed pool of cells is a lengthy, labour-intensive process. It involves limiting dilution cloning and assay of culture supernatants for antigen specificity of secreted antibodies, and requires numerous growth cycles and isolation steps until a cell line is optimised for antibody production.
"The ability to identify single cells producing antigen specific antibodies is not possible using other assays," said One Cell scientist Yevgenya Akselband. "Our antigen specific assay can dramatically reduce time to market as well as labour costs associated with traditional antibody production," she added.