Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

Helen J. Hurh

NYC Lab School, Manhattan


Antibody and Antibody Specificity

I chose this activity because it illustrates the idea of antibody and antibody specificity, a topic which I am studying this summer in my lab.  I have designed this lab using two labs acquired through former colleagues.

The Egg Mishap:


anti-chicken albumin (out of date is cheaper and still acceptable)

2% agar plates


marking pen

plastic pipettes

test tubes

diluted samples (any dilution is acceptable):  water, egg white, egg-free pasta, no egg mayo, sugar, salt, custard, molasses, non-egg cake, tuna (all samples diluted with 0.85% saline- solid use only supernatant)

[Teaching Standard D- Make accessible science materials]




Joe is irate.  He just returned from the hospital after nearly dying from an allergic reaction.  He is not allergic to anything except eggs and responsibly eats out only at the local egg-free restaurant, called No-Eggs.  Last Sunday, he woke up, at noon, skipped lunch, went shopping all day and met a friend at No-Eggs for dinner.  There, he ate a tuna sandwich, side of macaroni salad, and a baked dessert with custard and molasses.  All are supposedly egg-free.  Four hours later, he had difficulty breathing and went to the ER with a severe allergic reaction. 

Joe wants to sue No-Eggs, but in order to prove that there must have been eggs in the food he ate, he orders the same meal and decides to test the food for the presence of eggs. 

In groups of 2 or 3, think of ways Joe can test for the presence of egg.  What food contained the egg?  What sort of materials do you think he will need?  What are the positive and negative controls for his experiment?  (the teacher should set out the materials and ask the students to design their own experiment, sharing results with one another). 


With prepared plates, cut out six grooves with the toothpick around the periphery and one groove in the center.  Load the antibody into the grooves.  The students should load chosen samples including controls (water, egg).  Store the plates at room temperature overnight.  The next day, the students should observe the results and see clumping.

Suggested follow up:

Discussion of antibody-antigen specificity [9-12 Content Standard C- The cell]

Blood antibody-antigen lab

Project on a disease and how it affects the immune system.



 Bond, Joshua.  Immunology.  Unpublished paper written for T-120.  Harvard University.  May, 1998.

 Grupe, Michael.  Food Forensics:  A Case of Mistaken Identity.  [Online] 

Available:, November, 1997.

[Teaching Standard D- Make accessible science media]


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