ALS Canada donor-funded research published in the open-access scientific journal eLife


Antibodies are produced by the immune system to protect the body against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. They work by binding to specific proteins on harmful agents and triggering their removal or destruction. Antibodies are also commonly used as a tool in research because they bind to particular proteins. This allows researchers to see where and how much of that protein is in a cell. In ALS research, this means antibodies can be designed to test for ALS specific proteins.

Research funded in part by an ALS Canada–Brain Canada Arthur J. Hudson Translational Team Grant published today in eLife, an open-access scientific journal, shows just how important it is to have effective antibodies in ALS research.

Led by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute, the paper highlights the need for better antibody validation to obtain reliable data. The more reliable the data, the better the ability to replicate results and accelerate our understanding of how ALS happens.

A researcher usually makes antibodies or purchases them from a manufacturer for use in laboratory settings. However, commercially available antibodies do not always detect the protein they are supposed to identify. To demonstrate how inconsistent commercially available antibodies can be, the team led by Dr. Peter McPherson and Dr. Carl Laflamme, ALS Canada’s 2016 Ronald Peter Griggs Memorial Postodoral Fellowship recipient, used different engineered antibodies to test for C9ORF72. C9ORF72 is a protein that results from the gene most commonly mutated in ALS and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

This validation method clearly showed which antibodies could and could not accurately detect the C9ORF72 protein – highlighting that antibody validation is vital to in ALS to ensure reliable products are being used. Validated antibodies mean scientific findings will be more accurate and better able to be replicated in future research. They also save large amounts of time and money.

The paper and validated antibodies are also part of the ALS Reproducible Antibody Platform (ALS-RAP), an open science collaborative effort to ensure the highest quality, validated antibodies are shared with the ALS research community.

ALS-RAP is a partnership between scientists at the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) and its associated labs at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) McGill University in Montreal (Canada), the University of Oxford (UK), and the Karolinska Institute (Sweden). It is funded by the MND Association, ALS Association and the ALS Society of Canada.

For more information on the study, you can read the full press release from The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital).

Posted in: Research