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Antibody & Antigen

Differences between Polyclonal and Monoclonal Antibodies

Basic concepts of polyclonal and monoclonal antibody


Refers to asexual reproduction of a cell line, which is a group of cells formed by the division and reproduction of a single ancestor cell. In all members of this family, if no mutations occur, the genes are exactly the same.

Polyclonal antibody (pAb): 

By using an antigen-containing multiple antigenic determinants to immunize animals, multiple B cell clones in the body can be stimulated to produce different antibodies against multiple antigenic epitopes. The obtained immune serum is actually a mixture of various antibodies.

Monoclonal antibody (mAb): 

Homogeneous antibodies produced by a B cell clone that recognizes a single antigenic epitope. Highly uniform, highly specific, high potency, and little or no cross-reactivity.

Comparison of polyclonal and monoclonal antibody production

The main process of polyclonal antibody production includes:

①preparing antigen;

②selecting experimental animals;

③animal immunization;

④testing blood to see if immunization is successful;

⑤if successful immunization, euthanizing the experimental animal and collecting all the serum;

⑥purifying antibodies;

⑦identifying antibodies, including purity and specificity.

The difference from monoclonal antibody production: hybridoma cells are obtained by cell fusion of B lymphocytes that have been treated with a specific antigen and myeloma cells. After screening with HAT culture medium and ELISA detection of potency, positive clone strains are obtained, and finally, monoclonal antibodies are obtained by cell culture or injecting cells into animals (usually Balb/C mice) for ascites cultivation and collecting the supernatant/ascites after purification.

There is no need for tedious steps in the preparation of polyclonal antibody. The antigen (the higher the purity, the better) is directly injected into the animal body for immunization. After 3 to 4 immunizations, the effectiveness is tested by ELISA. After collecting the blood and centrifuging the supernatant, polyclonal antibodies can be obtained after purification. Therefore, the production period of the polyclonal antibody is shorter than that of monoclonal antibodies, and the first production price is lower than that of monoclonal antibodies.

Comparison of applications of polyclonal and monoclonal antibody

Applications of the polyclonal antibody

A good polyclonal antiserum contains multiple antibodies against different epitopes of a certain antigen. Since polyclonal antiserum usually contains antibodies against different epitopes of a certain antigen, including denatured-resistant epitopes, it will also play a role in deep fixation samples. In staining of tissues embedded in paraffin, polyclonal antibodies are often used. According to different experimental needs, polyclonal antibodies are applied to mark corresponding antigens.

In addition, in agricultural production, polyclonal antibodies are used for field monitoring of pesticide residues; in clinical applications, polyclonal antibodies are mainly used for pathogen detection, disease diagnosis and treatment, such as being used as protein immunosuppressants for transplantation reactions and autoimmune diseases.

Applications of the monoclonal antibody

Monoclonal antibody can be used to analyze the fine structure of antigens and test the structural relationship of unknown antigens and antibodies. By producing antibodies against specific molecules in complex biological mixtures, they can be used to isolate, analyze and purify the specific molecular antigens. Their reagents can be used for clinical diagnosis and treatment or as "biological missile" drugs with monoclonal antibodies as warheads, which can be directly targeted at tumors and so on.

Since Mathe first used anti-mouse leukemia immunoglobulin and methotrexate (MTX) cross-linking therapy in 1958, various combinations of chemotherapy drugs and antibodies have appeared. The combination of drugs and monoclonal antibodies directly, small molecule cross-linking agents and monoclonal antibodies, and drugs linked to monoclonal antibodies through large molecular carriers have all advanced the development of molecular-targeted drugs from the laboratory to clinical practice and are widely used in disease treatment.

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