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WHO cytokine standardization: facilitating the development of cytokines in research, diagnosis and as therapeutic agents

The development and widespread application of recombinant DNA technology has dramatically increased the number of cytokines available for clinical evaluation. New and novel cytokines are being discovered, cloned and entered into clinical trials at such a rate that it is often the case that the biological activities of these proteins are poorly understood during their development as therapeutic agents. In addition, manufacturers of any one cytokine can produce the protein from different cellular sources resulting in materials that exhibit markedly different specific activities. When estimating the amount of biological activity of different preparations with different specific activities by bioassay, mass units cannot be used and biological activity is therefore expressed as `biological potency units'. The biological unit requires definition by a standard that is assay-independent (especially when measuring a particular type of biological activity). In many cases, a variety of assay methods will be available and the material chosen for a standard should ideally be suitable for use with as many of them as possible. Once the unit is defined, this can be used in any laboratory, thus providing a means of ensuring uniformity throughout the world in the designation of potency of different biological preparations. The World Health Organisation (WHO) standardization programme involves the production of biologically stable, well characterised potency and immunoassay standards that are available world-wide using a single international unitage. Over the years, WHO international standards have been used to dramatically reduce the variation in estimates of cytokine preparations within and between laboratories for immunoassays and bioassays. WHO international standards are primary reference preparations against which secondary, or working standards (including regional standards, national standards, pharmacopoeial standards and in-house working standards) can be calibrated. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Immunological Methods Elsevier
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