What is a Goat Antibody?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A goat antibody is an antibody which is derived from a goat. Goat antibodies can be used for a variety of different tasks including research, diagnostic testing, and medical treatment. They are available from laboratories which do antibody production, with labs offering custom as well as generic antibodies for various uses. Both monoclonal and polyclonal goat antibodies are available.

A young kid on a goat farm.
A young kid on a goat farm.

Production of goat antibodies starts with inoculating a goat with an antigen. Usually several inoculations are performed, followed by titer testing to confirm that the goat is forming antibodies, and to check on the level of antibodies in the blood. Once the goat has produced enough antibodies, blood can be taken to make an antiserum which can be purified to extract the antibodies. Commonly this is accomplished by slaughtering and bleeding the goat to extract as many antibodies as possible.

Antibody purification takes place in a lab, and several different techniques can be used. In all cases, the goal is to extract pure antibodies from the antiserum. It is important to remove impurities in the antiserum, because they can interfere with the tasks for which the antibodies are being used. For example, if a goat antibody is being used to test for exposure to a particular disease, impurities could cause a false positive by binding to cells in the fluid being tested.

When a lab produces a goat antibody for a customer, it may add some options to the product after purification. For example, the goat antibody can be conjugated with a substance which will fluoresce, acting as a tag which can be used in diagnostic testing. Specialty services usually add to the price of the goat antibody, with the lab charging fees based on the level of complexity involved.

Polyclonal goat antibodies are produced using the method discussed above. To make monoclonal antibodies, a cell which produces antibodies is grafted with a cancerous cell line which will produce cells potentially infinitely. These cloned cells produce identical antibodies which can be used in medical treatment, diagnosis, and other applications.

The turnaround time on an order for goat antibodies can vary. If a lab has a goat antibody in stock, it can ship it out relatively quickly. If it is a custom or specialty project, it can take several weeks or months. The lab can usually provide an estimate at the time an order was placed so that a researcher knows when to anticipate delivery.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@ddljohn-- Direct treatment with goat antibodies may not be as common, however goat antibodies are used all the time to locate disease.

Antibodies with fluorescent particles can be injected into a patient to find out the exact location of cancerous or diseased cells. This is as vital as the treatment itself because it helps doctors decide what the best method of treatment will be.

For example, if the cancerous cells are located in one specific area, those cells can be targeted with radiotherapy and killed without damaging any healthy cells.

So yes, this research is absolutely essential for human health and medical treatment, especially in this period where diseases like cancer are on the rise.


Goats actually have to be slaughtered for antibody search?! That doesn't sound right at all!

I think it could be acceptable if it somehow saved someone's life or cured their disease. But I believe most of goat antibodies are used in labs for research right? And I haven't heard of this research being successfully used to treat or prevent any diseases.

I'm against animal testing in labs. I don't think any research should be done on animals, whether it's rabbits, monkeys, mice or goats. And to slaughter them for this? That's a bit too much in my opinion.

Someone will have to convince me that this process is absolutely essential for human health and the medical field for me to agree with it.


How common is the use of goat antibodies as treatment?

I think some years ago, most of the insulin that diabetics used came from animals, particularly cows. But sometimes people would have allergic reactions to them. Europe was also afraid that people might be infected with mad cow disease from cow insulin. Now, most of the insulin that is used is synthetic insulin that's produced in the labs. These are a lot safer.

I'm guessing that same or similar issues must also exist with goat antibodies. I'm curious as to how suitable goat polyclonal antibody could be for the human body. Does it work well?

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