Camel antibodies used to make rugged biological detectors

Researchers managed by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (DTRA CB/JSTO) recently used antibodies from camels to develop more rugged biological weapon detectors.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) researchers found two methods to increase the utility of single domain antibodies (sdAbs). The team took sdAbs from the heavy chain antibodies found in camelids such as llamas and camels and further enhanced their melting temperature and solubility. By increasing the sdAbs' ability to survive high heat challenges, the performance of field portable detection devices can be improved in austere environments.

Understanding how to manipulate sdAbs to resist aggregation could result in improved reagents with better shelf life and reduced logistical demands, such as storing the reagents without refrigeration.

The team found that sdAbs can be engineered to increase their melting temperatures and improve the probability of function after heating above their melting temperature at high concentrations for a long duration. The researchers said the methods used to improve the antibodies should be generalizable and could be applied to any sdAb reagent.

Advancements in sdAbs as improved binding reagents could facilitate their integration into antibody-based biosensors.

The researchers recently published the findings in Protein Engineering Design and Selection and Protein Expression and Purification.