What are monoclonal antibodies?

Glenn Takayama lv-nm at ix.netcom.com
Tue Sep 26 18:05:30 EST 1995

In <43vuvo$pet at sunburst.ccs.yorku.ca> Joy Abramson <ad954 at torfree.net>
>I'm a student, and I'm doing an assignment on the topic of "Cytology -

>methods of cell study -- Monoclonal Antibodies".. If anybody could
>me what these are, how they are used as a method of cell study, books 
>that would have the information I need, web sites, or anything else 
>that you think would be helpful, it would be very very very VERY much 
>appreciated. :)..
>I hope I'm posting in the right newgroup.. Thanks in advance! 
>-Joy Abramson
Hi Joy!

Monoclonal antibodies are a collection a single type of antibody.  By
single type, specifically I mean binding to one particular epitope on
an antigen (immunogen).  Monoclonal antibodies are usually produced in
mice  (or mouse cells) for practical reasons.

This is in contast to polyclonal antibodies, which is a collection of 
several types of antibodies produced against several epitopes on the
same antigen (immunogen). This is usually produced in rabbits.

You said that you are a student, so please excuse me if I insult your
level of understanding.  I used to describe it to students this way: 
Imagine that your hand is an antigen.  If your hand were "injected"
into an animal (other than human, in theory), that animal, mouse, for
instance, will recognize the immunogen as foreign to its body, and
produce antibodies against the hand.

Again, simply put, if you imagine that each finger on the hand is an
epitope, then a monoclonal antibody will only react or bind with only
one finger (or thumb), not all the fingers like a polyclonal antibody

How they are used is simple.  Since the antibody is like a three
dimension puzzle piece, and very unique, it has the distinct
characteristic of being very, very specific in what it binds to. 
Furthermore, if you are trying to bind to or label a specific protein
within a cell, to study its presence during particular phases of the
cell cycle, for instance, you can use this antibody (through simple
labeling techniques) to visualize the presence or absence of that

I didn't mean to ramble on so, but I hope that gets you started.
_Antibodies_ by Ed Harlowe and David Lane provide an excellent look at
the entire process.  Since the antibody is used in a variety of
research applications, you may then reference an Immunocytochemistry
text for methods of use, then Cytopathology text for how they are
useful to the investigator.

Good luck!
Mark Corl
NeoMarkers, Inc.
LV-NM at ix.netcom.com

More information about the Cellbiol mailing list