Monoclonal antibodies

Essay by kaviHigh School, 12th gradeA, August 2007

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The production of monoclonal antibodies, using the hybridoma methodMonoclonal antibodies are obtained from clones of single B cells. Unfortunately, B cells will not grow in culture and this problem has to be got round by fusing them withmalignant B myeloma cells i.e. cancerous B cells. Myeloma cells will continue to grow and divide indefinitely, though they do not produce antibodies. The fused cellsproduced from myeloma cells with B cells are known as hybridomas. The hybridoma cells will also continue to grow and divide (given suitable and adequate nutrients) andthey do secrete antibodies. The antibodies that they secrete are the specific antibodies that were produced by the original clone of B cells.

The production of monoclonal antibodies involves the following stages :• A mouse is injected with antigen for which theantibodies are required• An immune response takes place and the mouse plasmacells start to make the antibody• Plasma cells are extracted from the mouse• The plasma cells are fused with B cell myeloma cells• The resulting hybridoma cells are separated individuallyand allowed to grow, divide and produce antibodies• Some antibodies are removed and tested with the relevantantigen, to make sure they are the correct monclonals• Those hybridoma cells which are producing the requiredantibodies are cultured in a large fermenter• The monoclonal antibodies are harvested and purifiedThe use of monoclonal antibodies in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and pregnancy testingDiagnosis - because the monoclonal antibodies produced from a clone of B cells are all identical, they can be used to identify macromolecules with a very high degree ofspecificity.

For example, they are now routinely used for the following:• Blood typing before transfusions• Tissue typing before transplants• Identification of pathogens - using monoclonals, it is now possible to distinguish between different strains of certain pathogens, which would, otherwise, be every difficult•...