What is your role at Rockland, and how long have you been with the company?
My role is Strategic Partnership Manager for Rockland Immunochemicals, and I’ve been with the company since January, 2018.
How did you get started with Rockland, being located outside the US?
I knew the Rockland team for many years, and I was very happy when they were looking to expand outside of the USA. So, I am Rockland’s first international employee. My role is to manage our distributors. I work from home, in a little town in the middle of a forest in Suffolk, England.
What major product lines do you offer to the research community?
We offer primary antibodies, secondary antibodies, kits, buffers, reagents -- anything that a researcher needs in life sciences.
How long has the company been around?
Since the early 1960s, 1962 to be specific.
So, it’s even older than Biomol! What is the history behind your company name?
Rockland was founded in Rockland County in New York and that’s where the name comes from.
Did Rockland’s CEO Jim Fendrick move the company to Philadelphia?
Actually, Jim’s mother moved the company to rural Pennsylvania. Rockland is still a family owned and run business.
What was the first product sold?
I am not sure what the first product was that was sold, but I know in antibody-related products the first product was a secondary antibody and that was in the 1980s.
Rockland is based near Philadelphia. Philly is famous for its rich American history, such as being the home of the Constitution and the Liberty Bell. It is also known for hosting several movies. Which one would you pick as your Philly favorite?
It would be Rocky. I’ve been Philadelphia many times, both to visit family in the city and for business trips. So, I’ve gone and run up the steps with the Rocky music playing with the rest of the tourists.
Biomol employee on top of the Rocky steps in Philadelphia
And there is even a Rocky statue, which was originally on top of the steps and is now at the bottom, right?
Yes, it is at the bottom, but it does not look anything like Sylvester Stallone.
As a leading antibody manufacturer, Rockland is part of the committee trying to establish a standard for antibody validation. How do you make sure results are consistent and primary antibodies are specific?
It all comes back to Rockland being the manufacturer of the products. We have our own animal facility, so we control every step of the way. We make the immunogens, we do the antibody production, and we have very strict SOPs as part of product release. We list which are the positive and negative controls to test against, and we have a series of assays that we make sure that the QC team have passed before we release a new batch of a product. We want to make sure that the customer is getting a product that is specific to their target of interest, it doesn’t have cross reactivity, and is truly specific.
Talking about cross reactivity, you also have the TrueBlot® line of products. How can a researcher benefit from TrueBlot®?
TrueBlot® works best when the customer is doing immunoprecipitation and then following that, a Western blot. A part of immunoprecipitation is that when you capture your protein of interest, you are going to elute your capturing primary IP antibody, as well. You will elute the entire primary antibody in the IP reaction, particularly when it is not cross-linked to the beads. When you run that on SDS-PAGE gel, that primary antibody is denatured and it’s part of the sample that is on the gel. When you then use a standard secondary antibody, that would detect the primary antibody that you are using to detect the protein of interest, that same secondary antibody will also detect the heavy and the light chains of the denatured primary antibody that you loaded on to your SDS-PAGE gel, so you’ll get two additional bands. (One band will be around 50 kDa, which represents the heavy chain and the other band around 25 kDa, which represents the light chain). Thus, you will get the heavy and light chain bands of the capture IP antibody, in addition to the desired band for your protein of interest. This is because a standard secondary antibody detects both the non-denatured primary antibody used to detect the protein of interest in the western blot, as well as the denatured heavy and the light chains of the IP antibody. (It cannot differentiate between the native, non-reduced form and the reduced form of IgG).
TrueBlot® is a monoclonal secondary antibody which detects only the fully native, non-denatured version of immunoglobulin. It will only detect the primary antibody you are probing with and not the addtional heavy and light chains of the IP antibody which has been loaded as part of the contaminants of immunoprecipitation.
What kind of products do you offer in the TrueBlot® product line?
Besides the monoclonal secondary antibodies, we also have bead-based products to use for immunoprecipitation (IP). This includes agarose or magnetic IP beads, which can be used to do your IP reaction to pull down your protein of interest.
You also sell red blood cell magnetic beads. What are they useful for?
They are useful for clearing red blood cells out of serum or plasma. You can either use the red blood cells or red blood-cell depleted serum or plasma, you can use the magnetic beads to do that. They can be used for any downstream application where you don’t want the interference of whole red blood cells.
Rockland's Red Blood Cell Depletion Magnetic Beads
What are the most common questions you’ve received at AACR?
A lot of the time customers want to know if we have a specific antibody, and they also want to know about our validation processes. This includes how we validate our antibodies, how we validate specifically around cancer, and how we validate our post-translational modification antibodies, such as our phosphate antibodies.
Do you have time to attend sessions or talk to researchers?
I don’t normally go to the sessions but I’ll go for a walk-through, have a look at the posters, and talk to people if I see something that looks interesting. It is a good opportunity to meet end users and researchers.