Boosting antibody Production

Four Kent State University students have been chosen to compete in the German pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA’s International Protein Production Cell Line Challenge. 

The student team, composed of biotechnology students Mitchell Lesko, Eric Veverka, Allison Davis and Joram Rana, is one of twelve teams selected from around the world. To compete, the team will seek to find what methods encourage antibody expression in a Chinese Hamster Ovarian (CHO) cell.

The teams were provided with the antibody expression construct and CHO cells and given one year to generate and submit a high expression CHO cell line. The team’s cell line that produces the most antibodies will be awarded a EUR 20,000 gold prize.

“This challenge provides KSU students with the opportunity to use the skills and knowledge acquired during their undergraduate studies, and to see where their knowledge placed them on the world stage,” says one of their mentors, Elda Hegmann, PhD, assistant professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Antibody production is one of the immune system’s most important functions in fighting off pathogens. When the process is damaged, a host of illnesses can develop. Finding new methods to boost the body’s ability to produce antibodies is crucial to understanding what causes this breakdown and helping those suffering from immunodeficiency disorders. 

The students work with a three-stage process, under the guidance of Jennifer McDonough, PhD, associate professor of biological sciences. In the first stage, they must identify and sequence an unspecified antibody expression DNA sequence. 

During stage two, the team will insert the sequenced DNA antibody expression into a CHO cell. Once this is done, the last and most important stage begins: researching how to optimize the cells to produce a high yield of the antibody.

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POSTED: Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 2:26pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 5:12am
WRITTEN BY:
Dan Pompili