Responsible Antibody Production

Antibodies Part 2 (read Part 1 here)

As noted in our previous post, there are many promising uses for antibodies. Therefore, it is no wonder that antibody production is big business. The Scientist reported that revenues from antibody sales were over $1.6 billion in 2011. In the United States, antibody producers that use regulated species of animals must comply with the Animal Welfare Act, just as research institutions that use animals must do.

Earlier this year, we reported that one large antibody producer, Santa Cruz Biotechnology (SCB), was accused by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) of numerous animal welfare violations. The company originally planned to address these allegations at a USDA administrative law hearing scheduled for the week of July 14, 2014. That hearing has since been postponed while SCB and the USDA try to reach a negotiated settlement on the alleged violations. We would welcome such a settlement if the end result is better animal welfare practices at SCB.

Mice in a Cage

“We would welcome such a settlement if the end result is better animal welfare practices at SCB.”

Meanwhile, the USDA recently announced a settlement with another antibody producer: Rockland Immunochemicals, Inc.  Rockland paid a $32,071 fine for multiple Animal Welfare Act violations in 2012 and 2013. It is noteworthy that all inspections of Rockland Immunochemicals by the USDA thus far in 2014 have indicated that the company was compliant with the Animal Welfare Act. Hopefully, Rockland has learned an important lesson: animal welfare matters

Neither Rockland Immunochemicals nor Santa Cruz Biotechnology discusses corporate responsibility or their commitment to animal welfare on their websites, but other antibody producers do. For example, the Aves Labs website plainly states its commitment to animal welfare and heralds the fact that the company voluntarily sought accreditation of its animal use program by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Welfare (AAALAC).   Protocols describing the company’s use of animals for antibody production are also provided on its website.

Other examples of antibody producers with strong commitments to animal welfare and transparency in animal use include ImmunoPrecise, Pocono Rabbit Farm and Laboratory, EMD-Millipore, and Bethyl Laboratories.

We urge all antibody producers to establish corporate responsibility practices and transparency regarding their animal use programs. We also urge scientists and pharmaceutical companies to weigh the producers’ commitment to these important values in selecting which antibodies to use.

Alice Ra’anan and Bill Yates

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