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Meningococcal monoclonal antibody (mAb) reagents available from NIBSC

Since 1993, NIBSC has held a panel of hybridoma cell lines which express monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific for different meningococcal surface antigens including outer membrane proteins (OMPs), polysaccharides and lipo-oligosaccharides (LOS). These antigens are used for strain characterisation and in vaccine development. The cell lines were donated to NIBSC by collaborators worldwide for safe-keeping and for distribution of mAb. Initially, 24 of the most commonly used mAbs were produced in mice as ascitic fluids and characterised. This original panel included mAbs previously supplied as a serosubtyping kit by the RIVM (now the NVI) and serological reagents isolated at the WRAIR. The original NIBSC reagents were provided as ascites fluids on an individual mAb basis. The reagents have been used mostly by meningococcal reference laboratories for epidemiological studies and it was predicted that their use would decline as the dominant antigens in circulating meningococcal populations changed and as genetic methods for typing became more widely used. However, there is still a demand for these reagents and NIBSC has been replacing and extending the original panel. The current NIBSC reagents are supplied as freeze-dried culture supernatants (or freeze-dried ascites in the case of the serogroup A, B and C mAbs).