25 March 2010. The Michael J. Fox Foundation announced this week that it is offering LRRK2 antibodies to the Parkinson disease research community for testing. The antibodies, to be available mid-April, have not yet been fully characterized, and the Foundation hopes that once academic and industry labs have put them through their paces, a few of them will emerge that are particularly good tools for research.
LRRK2 is the most commonly mutated gene in both familial and sporadic forms of Parkinson disease (see ARF related news story). It is also one of the most recently discovered PD genes, and though there is evidence that LRRK2 exacerbates toxicity of another Parkinson-related protein, α-synuclein (see ARF related news story), exactly how it contributes to PD pathology is not clear. “We ‘LRRK2 people’ have been absolutely desperate for validated antibodies, preferably monoclonals, since the protein was cloned,” said Mark Cookson, National Institutes for Health, Bethesda, Maryland. Cookson explained that the antibodies to date, homemade or purchased, were plagued with issues such as non-specific immunoreactivity and/or poor reproducibility across batches. Even the most basic questions, such as which cells express LRRK2, have been vexing. “I think the MJFF is making a serious attempt to devote some resources to this problem and then have the community figure out if it worked or not,” said Cookson.
The LRRK2 rabbit monoclonal antibodies are part of MJFF’s push to generate tools that can be used for PD research. Mark Frasier, Associate Director, Research Programs at MJFF, told ARF that the Foundation is also in the process of generating mouse monoclonal antibodies to LRRK2. These will eventually be available through the NIH-sponsored Neuromab and will be sold at cost. The Foundation is also generating animal models for distribution. For more information and to apply for the rabbit monoclonals, visit the MJFF website.—Tom Fagan.