The veterinary immunology community has a reputation for being collegiate. Since the 1980s many monoclonal antibodies have been produced that underpinned fundamental knowledge of immune cell compartmentalisation. Many of these reagents were shared free-of-charge between laboratories under MTAs.
However, the funding landscape changed as we approached the millennium, with increasing expectations on efficiency and demonstration of impact. The nature of this type of work combined with research funding policies meant that veterinary immunology reagent development became largely (but not exclusively) centralised in government-supported research institutes.
In 2001, the IUIS VIC held a Toolkit workshop at IVIS, one issue discussed was the lack of databases that contained well-curated information on veterinary immunology reagents to enable knowledge exchange. Subsequent toolbox initiatives invested in databases, but the development and continuous curation comes at a cost, so databases stagnated once the funding terminated.
The UK Immunological Toolbox, of which this database is a key component, has a different funding model. The Pirbright Institute and The Roslin Institute are sharing skills and resources funded as part of their long term UKRI-BBSRC funding. This provides a new level of sustainability to develop tools and this web-based information resource for the benefit of the community.
This website has been based on the needs expressed by the community during four dedicated workshops (link to the minutes). The primary aim is to act as the central repository to store information on the location, supply and applicability of veterinary immune reagents and associated methods. As such, we are relying on the community to provide verifiable information on existing reagents, including a rating, as well as those under development. This website also acts as the entry point to request the development of new reagents and production of recombinant antibodies through the UK Immunological Toolbox.