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How to produce an IgY Antibody

How to Produce an IgY Antibody

Many researchers are now choosing to make their custom polyclonal antibody in chickens. There are many reasons to do so. Some choose to immunize a hen and collect the eggs because it is the least invasive way to produce polyclonal antibodies. The eggs can be stored for up to 3 months in the refrigerator or the yolks separated and frozen in delipidation buffer (Reagent A of the Eggspress IgY Purification Kit). For some, the attraction is that chickens often produce better antibodies to conserved mammalian proteins. And for some, choosing hens means that a life-time supply of polyclonal antibody will be available to them after immunizing a single animal. One hen can produce as much antibody as 10 – 20 rabbits, and it’s so much easier to collect eggs than bleed 10 rabbits!

Making an IgY antibody in hens isn’t that different from producing a rabbit antibody, except that it’s easier because bleeding the animal is not necessary. Perhaps the most difficult part of raising antibodies in chickens is to provide a suitable environment for them. Hens prefer to roost on sticks at night, lay their eggs in a nesting box and have regular “dust baths” in sand or wood shavings.

The European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (EVCAM) has reported on a workshop that validates the benefits of using chickens as laboratory animals to produce polyclonal antibodies.