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NIST Monoclonal Antibody Reference Material 8671



the NIST monoclonal antibody


The NIST monoclonal antibody (NISTmAb) reference material, RM 8671, is intended for use in evaluating the performance of methods for determining physicochemical and biophysical attributes of monoclonal antibodies. It also provides a representative test molecule for development of novel technology for therapeutic protein characterization. The RM is intended for a variety of uses that may include system suitability tests, establishing method or instrument performance and variability, comparing changing analytical test methods, and assisting in method qualification.

The NIST monoclonal antibody reference material is, quite possibly, the most widely characterized publicly available monoclonal antibody, a molecule directly relevant to the biopharmaceutical industry. It is grounded in quality measurements, thus providing a common control material for originator and follow on manufacturers alike. The voluntary and open access nature of this material makes it the premier choice for technology development in the pre-competitive space.


Comprehensive analysis of monoclonal antibody therapeutics is no easy task. These molecules embody various complex attributes, the characterization of which is a long and arduous process, yet monoclonal antibody therapeutics have taken residence as perhaps one of the most influential therapeutic classes of our time. An inter-continental crowdsourcing characterization of a single IgG1k (NISTmAb) was recently reported as a three volume book series, serving as a supportive tool in the evolution of analytical and biophysical methodologies. The NISTmAb case study provides a comprehensive overview of monoclonal antibody therapeutics, using the NISTmAb as a vehicle for highlighting the characterization stages of product development. Contributors utilized the NISTmAb throughout, demonstrated the potential utility of class-specific reference materials as a means to facilitate open innovation, and identified a number of emerging research areas for future development. Conclusion of the series is therefore met with eager anticipation of continued biopharmaceutical advancement through industry-focused partnerships.

Qualification, certification, and lifecycle management of the NISTmAb reference material 8671, to be publicly released in 2016, will be a representative means by which this collaboration will continue. In preparation of the material for public availability, many methods were qualified for their intended use in assessing the identity (e.g., peptide mapping), purity (e.g., capillary zone electrophoresis [CZE]), monomeric purity (size exclusion chromatography [SEC] and capillary sodium dodecylsulfate electrophoresis [CE-SDS]), and stability (dependent on attributes) of the NISTmAb. Additional characterization assays of dynamic light scattering and flow imaging analysis of protein particulates were also employed. Forced degradation studies were performed in order to further elucidate potential degradation pathways and production of product-related impurities relevant for challenging methods during qualification exercises. Accelerated stability studies were also performed to identify adequate storage and handling criteria appropriate to the materials intended use.

Development of innovative technology at NIST and in collaboration with industry stakeholders has also continued. Three interlaboratory studies have been initiated using the NISTmab to evaluate the precision of hydrogen deuterium exchange mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry, and glycoanalysis. The NISTmAb is also serving as the current basis for advancing measurement techniques at NIST such as small angle neutron scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance, x-ray diffraction crystallography, small angle X-ray scattering, mass spectrometry multi-attribute method, and glycan and peptide mass spectral libraries, to name a few.

We hope this material finds widespread utility in the biomanufacturing community. We look forward to industry feedback on the technical utility of NISTmAb RM 8671 as well as the suitability of related follow on materials that may supplement this robust and critical class of therapeutic.


The NISTmAb material is a recombinant humanized IgG1κ expressed in murine suspension culture. It is an »150 kDa homodimer of two identical light chains and two identical heavy chains linked through both inter- and intra-chain disulfide bonds. The protein has low abundance post-translational modifications including methionine oxidation, deamidation, and glycation. The molecule also has N-terminal pyroglutamination, C-terminal lysine clipping, and glycosylation of the heavy chains. These and other product quality attributes were extensively characterized in the ACS book series "State of the Art and Emerging Technologies for Therapeutic Monoclonal Antibody Characterization" for the initial batch of material (interim material 8670), used as the Primary Standard (PS) herein. Multiple bulk substance containers were homogenized to form a second batch (14HB batch) of material that was aliquoted into 1 L containers. A single 1 L container of 14HB was diluted 10-fold and aliquoted as RM 8671 lot 14HB-D-001.

A vial of RM 8671 contains 800 µL of 10 mg/mL IgG1κ monoclonal antibody in 12.5 mmol/L L-histidine, 12.5 mmol/L L-histidine HCl (pH 6.0). The material was produced in murine suspension cell culture and has undergone industry standard upstream and downstream purification to remove process related impurities.

Major Accomplishments

ACS Book series: "State-of-the-Art and Emerging Technologies for Therapeutic Monoclonal Antibody Characterization"

Glycopeptide mass spectral library (HCD) of human IgG1 mAb reference material and commercial mAbs

The structure analysis of glycans remains challenging due to the lack of high-throughput analytical platforms and freely available automated software capable of analyzing spectral data and determine the compositions and structures of glycopeptides and glycans. Researchers from the Mass Spectrometry Data Center in the Biomolecular Measurement Division of the Material Measurement Laboratory at NIST have created a first high resolution spectral library for enhanced glycosylation detection and characterization of an IgG1 reference material, the NISTmAb, using 2D LC-MS/MS fractionation approach. The highlights of this work involve:

  1. Two-dimensional glycopeptide analysis using high pH reversed-phase chromatography with fraction concatenation (normally used to reduce complex proteomic sample mixtures)
  2. Energy-dependent changes in HCD fragmentation confirmed the proposed glycan structures (over a wide range of NCE values: 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, and 40 used)
  3. The development of an automated glycopeptide analysis software tool, and
  4. The creation of a publicly available high resolution spectral library of glycopeptides. The library comprises a total of 1,703 HCD spectra of IgG1 mAbs expressed in NS0 and CHO cell lines.

A total of 81 distinct glycan compositions are determined based on 250 glycopeptides, almost more than double earlier reports for mAb glycans attached to a single glycosite. Such libraries enable, in addition to their known advantages of speed and sensitivity, the ready re-identification of challenging glycopeptides.

This library is freely available online at peptidew:lib:newigghsalib along with search software.

Dong, Q.; Yan, X.; Liang, Y.; and Stein, S.E. In-depth Characterization and Spectral Library Building of Glycopeptides in the Tryptic Digest of a Monoclonal Antibody Using 1D and 2D LC-MS/MS, J Proteome Res. 2016 May 6;15(5):1472-86.


Glycoanalysis Round Robin

An interlaboratory study was conducted by NIST to determine measurement variability in identifying and quantifying N-glycans in NISTmAb across laboratories. Each laboratory was asked to perform glycosylation analysis of two monoclonal antibody samples, NISTmAb and a glycan-modified NISTmAb, using their own method. To date, we received 103 reports from laboratories worldwide. Data analysis is in progress.

NMR Round Robin

Critical quality attributes (CQA) are significant measurement parameters of a medical product that impact both product safety and efficacy and are essential characteristics that are linked to positive public health outcomes. One CQA, higher order structure, is directly coupled to the function of protein biologics (biopharmaceuticals), and deviations in this CQA may be linked to pathological functions (e.g., immunogenicity or toxicity). NMR can yield structural fingerprints for a protein biologic at atomic resolution that are intrinsically dependent on higher order structure. While NMR spectral methods are well established for small molecules, peptides and small proteins, these approaches are far from standard or routine for proteins above 30 kDa in size, such as monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).

The primary goal of the NMR interlaboratory project is to use the Fab domain from the NISTmAb to demonstrate the robustness of the NMR measurement and to validate NMR structural fingerprinting measurements for the assessment of higher order structure of large protein biologics and/or domains from these proteins. The validation of NMR methods for the characterization of the higher order structure of mAbs is specifically targeted due to the large interest of the pharmaceutical industry in using mAbs as platforms for therapeutic development. The project involves a total of 30 partners in 10 countries, including Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Brazil, Australia, and Japan. Results will be published in a peer reviewed journal.

HDX Round Robin

Details coming soon.

Created May 9, 2016, Updated November 8, 2021