Monoclonal Antibodies mAbs

Ailsa M Campbell, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Davidson Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Polyclonal antiserum raised against any individual molecular antigen consists of an assortment of antibodies of a variety of classes binding to different epitopes on the antigen with a diverse range of affinities, the proportion varying from animal to animal and within the one animal from bleed to bleed. In monoclonal antibody (mAb) production, the cell producing a single one of these antibodies is selected and propagated in large amounts. This gives a standard reagent available indefinitely in large quantities. The cell line which makes such an antibody is called a B cell hybridoma. The relevant techniques are conceptually simple and involve the fusion of a B lymphocyte secreting antibody of the desired specificity with a myeloma (plasmacytoma) line which has the capacity for indefinite growth and division. The resultant hybrid then carries the antibody-secreting capacity of one parent and the immortality of the other.

The first production of monoclonal antibodies was reported by Kohler and Milstein in 1975 and led to the award of the 1984 Nobel Prize to these two scientists together with Neils Jerne.

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