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What Are Monoclonal Antibodies?

What Are Monoclonal Antibodies?

What Are Monoclonal Antibodies?

Antibodies are naturally released by the body in response to an infection. Science has developed monoclonal antibodies that can target certain antigens and be used in a variety of ways.

Monoclonal antibodies are produced by scientists for a wide range of different uses. This lesson will discuss some of those uses.

But first, can you remember what type of blood cell produces the natural antibodies in our bodies?

Can you remember what type of white blood cells produce antibodies?

Can you remember what antibodies attack to keep us healthy?

Mono means "one", and clonal relates to something being a "clone". Now, what do you think monoclonal antibodies are?

Monoclonal antibodies are made from producing lots of copies of a single white blood cell; B-lymphocyte. This means that all the antibodies will be identical, and will detect and attach to one specific type of antigen.


Antibodies have a specific shape that allows them to attach to a certain type of antigen.

The antibody produced for one type of antigen won't bind to any other antigen. It is unique. Many types of cell have antigens - from bacteria to cancerous tumour cells.

So monoclonal antibodies are many identical copies of one type of antibody. What do you think polyclonal antibodies are?


Take a close look at this image.

These are polyclonal antibodies - can you spot the difference between Type 1 and Type 2?


There is one key difference between polyclonal antibodies and monoclonal antibodies.

Polyclonal antibodies are different antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are the same antibody.


So monoclonal antibodies...

target one type of antigen and can attach to just one part on that antigen.


Polyclonal antibodies on the other hand...

also target only one type of antigen, but because they are actually different types of antibody, they can attach to different parts of the antigen.


Monoclonal antibodies on the other hand will only fit to one specific part.

They are all the same type of antibody that target one type of antigen.

So what do we use monoclonal antibodies for? Pick the options you think is the best answer.