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Detection of Meat Species in Fresh and Processed Food - Production and use of Monoclonal Antibodies Reactive with Insoluble Muscle Protein Desmin


For various reasons, including religious and ethical beliefs, consumers are increasingly interested in the meat species present in meat products. The importance of being able to distinguish meat mixtures has been further highlighted by the recent concern over Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).
Methods currently available for identifying meat species utilise antibodies to detect species-specific serum proteins. This approach has limitations in food testing in that antigen levels can be low, due to the level of meat processing and the slaughter conditions used.
This study aims to produce an assay based on monoclonal antibodies generated against a specific set of proteins. The most important of these proteins is the Intermediate Fragment Protein: Desmin. This protein is found in the cytoskeleton of cells and is a useful marker as it is stable, insoluble, highly conserved and shows marked differences between species.

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The aims for this study are to:
Produce murine monoclonal antibodies that are beef specific and that react with both fresh and processed meat.
<li>Produce intact antibodies by the cell fusion (hybridoma) technique. In parallel, to produce single chain variable domain antibody fragments using recombinant phage display expression system.
<li>Develop a reproducible procedure for extraction of desmin from raw, frozen and cooked meat samples. This will be coupled with rapid and quantitative immunoassays (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, chemiluminescent assays and dot-blots).
<li>Test these methods on authentic meat samples and produce standard operating procedures for identification of beef proteins in other meat mixtures.</ul>
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="; target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.

Nottingham Trent University
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