Avacta Life Sciences partners with NC3R to offer funding for Affimer® research

The principles of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) in animal research and testing were established as a framework for humane animal use over 50 years ago. They have since become embedded in national and international law regulating the use of animals in scientific procedures. Funding bodies actively promote the principles of the 3Rs, with their supported research being conditional upon the implementation of these principles.

Crack It logoAvacta Life Sciences are reducing animal use in the biosciences through the production of Affimer reagernts. In support of these principles we have recently partnered with NC3Rs (link is external), the UK-based scientific organisation dedicated to the replacement, reduction and refinement of animal use in research and testing.

NC3Rs are now offering funding through their commercial innovation platform CRACK IT (link is external) for collaborative partners who wish to utilise Affimer technology within their own research in the place of antibodies or for testing Affimer technology in new applications and platforms. Applications for funding your research using Affimer technology can be made at any time within the next six months and can support projects for up to 12 months, using either off-the-shelf Affimer reagents or bespoke Affimer reagents generated through custom screens.

One of the basic tools used in cellular and molecular research is the antibody. Antibody applications range from the identification of protein expression to functional analysis via protein inhibition. Monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies are generated by immunising animals with the desired antigen, stimulating their immune system to develop antibodies to the required target and ultimately the retrieval of the antibodies through purifying the animal’s serum. Despite the proven limitations of antibodies in reproducibility and specificity their manufacture inevitably necessitates the use of animals. In 2013, within the UK alone 1,433 animals were used in the production of monoclonal antibodies and 8,089 in the development of polyclonal antibodies.

Antibody alternatives have been researched by many over the past twenty five years, with options such as nucleic acid aptamers and non-immunoglobulin protein scaffolds being investigated. While the success rate in screening nucleic acid aptamers has been considered very low, protein scaffolds have concentrated in the main on the development of therapeutics.

Affimer reagents are the first non-antibody protein scaffold designed specifically with the research and diagnostic markets in mind. They are engineered to show no binding to irrelevant proteins, reducing the background noise and providing excellent signal to noise ratios to ensure the development of ELISA and multiplexed assays is straightforward. The lack of a requirement for an animal host in the production of Affimer binders means that targets can be toxic or non-immunogenic and there is no risk of contaminating products with animal-derived viruses. Additionally our customer service takes just seven weeks using just 50?g of starting material.

Intended to be simply swapped like-for-like with their animal-based antibody counterparts Affimer binders have been successfully used in many applications from ELISA and IHC to super-resolution microscopy and biosensing. The adoption of Affimer technology across the bioscience field will reduce the number of animals used by the antibody industry, while offering researchers a more reliable affinity reagent.

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