What are monoclonal antibodies?

anthonyp at scripps.edu anthonyp at scripps.edu
Wed Sep 27 11:32:29 EST 1995

In article <44a0vq$7ib at ixnews6.ix.netcom.com>, <lv-nm at ix.netcom.com> 

> In <43vuvo$pet at sunburst.ccs.yorku.ca> Joy Abramson <ad954 at torfree.net>
> writes: 
> >
> >I'm a student, and I'm doing an assignment on the topic of "Cytology -
> >methods of cell study -- Monoclonal Antibodies".. If anybody could
> tell 
> >me what these are,
> >

> 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).  

I hate to be a stickler, but this is the second time this answer has been 
given and it is not strictly correct.  A collection of antibodies binding 
to a particular epitope would be a "monospecific" antibody population.  It 
is true that monoclonal antibodies are monospecific.  But, a polyclonal 
serum that has been affinity purified against one particular epitope is 
also monospecific--this also could be described as a collection of 
antibodies binding to one particular epitope.

The defining characteristic of a monoclonal antibody is that it is made 
from a clonal population (derived from one single progenitor) of 
antibody-producing cell (actually, the cell has to have been fused to a 
cancerous cell in order to live in culture...but, I digress).  Each cell 
produces one and only one antibody.  So, a monoclonal antibody is not 
really a "collection" but a pure population of identical antibody.

Their uses are quite wide as Mark wrote, and Ed Harlowe's book is a good 
place to see their various uses.  These include detection of particular 
proteins in/on cells or in isolated protein preparations, purification of 
proteins, delivery of other reagents to specific sites on cells, or to 
specific cells, desease therapy, particularly cancer therapy (All still in 
trials, I think), as catalysts (see the "enzyme" thread currently being 
discussed), and to stimulate particular signaling receptors on cells.


> 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

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