Editorial Article: Learn About Antibody Production at Jackson ImmunoResearch Laboratories Inc

This exclusive interview reveals how Jackson have remained leaders in the secondary antibody market for over 30 years

16 Sep 2016

Image: Antibody/Shutterstock

SelectScience® spoke to Mary Kay Phillips, Vice President of Scientific Affairs and Dave Fancy, Chief Operations Officer at Jackson ImmunoResearch Laboratories, Inc., about antibody manufacturing at Jackson and their predictions for future applications and developments in antibody commercialization.

Jackson ImmunoResearch Laboratories, Inc. specializes in the production and conjugation of affinity-purified secondary antibodies and purified immunoglobulins. Their products are sold primarily to scientists in universities and research institutes throughout the world who are conducting research in the plant, animal, and biomedical sciences. 

Jackson ImmunoResearch Inc., specializes in the production and conjugation of secondary antibodies for research applications. Founded in 1982, Jackson ImmunoResearch was one of the first companies to use affinity purification of antibodies, rather than IgG fractionation, and an early adopter of cross-adsorbing across species, both of which contribute to improved specificity for multi-labelling with reduced background. Focused on the niche of secondary antibodies, Jackson has flourished over the last 30 years. We spoke to Mary Kay and Dave to find out their secrets to success.

Quality and reproducibility

While primary antibodies can be directly labeled and may be more appropriate for certain applications, the use of secondary antibodies offers far more versatility and enhanced signal amplification. As Mary Kay states, “the goals of Jackson ImmunoResearch have been consistent over time; to produce high quality antibodies that contribute to successful scientific investigation.” Jackson is focused on providing reliable reagents, with as much batch-to-batch consistency as possible, which is a challenge for polyclonal versus monoclonal antibody production. Dave comments, “We’ve always tried to improve the quality of antibodies and attach things that are relevant in the field. As the scientific field changes, the platforms change and we have to be in front of what’s going on to stay ahead with our product lines.” 


The goals of Jackson ImmunoResearch have been consistent over time; to produce high quality antibodies that contribute to successful scientific investigation.

Mary Kay Phillips

VP of Scientific Affairs


Jackson’s product development department constantly looks to improve existing products and investigate new products to add to the catalogue. New dyes are a particular area of focus in the field of antibody manufacturing. Manufacturers are striving to produce superior dyes, and at Jackson new dyes are routinely evaluated for brightness, photostability and compatibility with detection instrumentation. Dave explains, “We’re always investigating new dyes and antibody conjugates to make them applicable for new platforms.”

Customer service

As the VP of Scientific Affairs, Mary Kay spends a lot of time with the technical service discussing application needs with customers; from helping them to choose appropriate antibodies to developing and troubleshooting protocols. Jackson have a huge and evolving knowledge base for best practice using antibodies but do not have the facility to test all potential applications themselves. Therefore, customer feedback is beneficial, with some customers making specific requests for antibody specificities or modifications. As Mary Kay explains, “It’s a positive thing to have feedback from customers. In addition to the nice comments we hear, our conversations allow us to understand and respond to customers' needs.”

Secondary antibodies are more universal, we can try a new conjugate with a secondary and have it broadly applicable to several primaries that the customer may want to try.

Dave Fancy

Chief Operations Officer


Mary Kay explains that multiple labeling is an exploding area, “I think that the desire for multiple labeling is increasing and being able to separate those signals is really important.” Multiplex assays are an expanding area, particularly where sample sizes are limited, there is a drive to increase accuracy, signal-to-noise, with smaller samples. Dave also mentions how, as assays and detectors become more sensitive and robust, everything is being done on a smaller scale and so Jackson is, “always trying to improve the quality, specificity and sensitivity of antibodies to meet those demands.” Superresolution techniques are becoming more commonplace and suitable antibodies are a key component. 

Proteomics is another advancing area and in the next few years Dave believes that monoclonals will become available for every protein encoded by the genome, which has been a long-standing goal in the field. Due to the versatility of secondary antibodies, Dave is confident that they will remain a major player in the antibody market, “secondary antibodies are more universal, we can try a new conjugate with a secondary and have it broadly applicable to several primaries that the customer may want to try.”

Antibodies are also gaining more prominence in clinical and therapeutic application areas. Personalized medicine is a growing discipline where antibodies will be key to assess multiple disease biomarkers simultaneously. Immunotherapy is another growing area, particularly in the cancer field. Although, these therapeutic applications are not within Jackson’s remit, the early phases will still require the research and reagents that Jackson does provide. As Dave states, “We’re not driving the wave but we’re all together feeding off each other, and the reagents each other provide, from early phase to late phase production.”

Both Mary Kay and Dave concur that the secret to Jackson’s success has been to focus on quality, reproducibility, customer feedback and cutting-edge research and development.

Find out more about Jackson ImmunoResearch, visit the website.

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