Industry and academia to share expertise in effort to develop improved methods to produce and characterize antibodies and reagents for neurological research

Shawn Hayward, The Neuro

The Montreal Neurological Institute (The Neuro) of McGill University, a world-leading institution focused on brain research and advanced patient care, and Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world leader in serving science, today announce an agreement designed to accelerate the understanding of neurological disease by focusing on about 30 proteins associated with Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), hereditary spastic paraplegias, epileptic encephalopathies and ataxias, which are all devastating brain diseases.

According to the World Health Organization, neurological disorders and their consequences are estimated to affect as many as 1 billion people worldwide. With an aging population and lack of effective treatments for many of these conditions, it is critical to develop new tools and assays to advance research into the mechanisms of these diseases.

Antibodies are invaluable for studying the function and location of proteins. As part of the study, Thermo Fisher will generate antibodies for proteins that investigators at The Neuro and other scientists have associated with particular neurological diseases.

Investigators at The Neuro will generate cell lines lacking the proteins as a mechanism to validate the antibodies, and will then use their expertise in these disease domains, coupled with the Thermo Fisher-generated antibodies, to advance the understanding of these disorders. The research will result in a set of highly validated reagents for scientists to study neurodegenerative diseases. This sharing of scientific data is in line with The Neuro’s open science policy and will be actively supported by The Neuro’s Tanenbaum Open Science Institute.

Thermo Fisher will utilize its ABfinity™ antibody technology to generate rabbit recombinant antibodies. These recombinant antibodies are derived directly from B-cells captured from immunized animals and have the advantage of being robust and reproducible. Scientists from both institutions will work together to characterize the reagents. Thermo Fisher and Neuro scientists will confirm definitive protein binding by identifying that the antibody binds the intended target through mass spectrometry and by testing the antibodies by Western blot and immunofluorescence using the cell lines lacking the proteins generated at The Neuro as a control.

“We are pleased to partner with Thermo Fisher Scientific, a company that has a strong and proven reputation for its manufacture of antibodies,” said Dr. Peter McPherson, a researcher at The Neuro whose lab will participate in the partnership.  “We are also delighted that Thermo Fisher is supportive of our Open Science Initiative and its mandate to make reagents and tools available to the community.”

“This important work combines the expertise of industry and academia to develop and characterize world-class, robust tools to study diseases,” said Matt Baker, Director R&D and Business Development, Antibodies and Immunoassays at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “By working with scientists at The Neuro, our antibodies will be screened in the most relevant models by experts who are leaders in this field, resulting in high-value reagents for the entire research community.”

This partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific is the most recent open science agreement The Neuro has forged to develop effective therapies for neurological disease, including agreements with the Structural Genomics Consortium, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd., the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), and Merck.


March 15, 2018