Monoclonal Antibodies

What are Monoclonal Antibodies? Monoclonal Antibodies (mAb) are laboratory-produced proteins that function similarly to antibodies produced by white blood cells, such as plasma cells, in the body to defend against foreign pathogens or cancer cells. These antibodies are created to recognize and bind to one specific antigen.

How are Monoclonal Antibodies Produced?

The creation of monoclonal antibodies involves the harvesting of white blood cells from an animal that has been exposed to the target antigen. These plasma cells are combined in the lab with rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells, to form a combination cell- a hybridoma.

The hybridoma producing the antibody of interest is identified and placed in an environment conducive to the proliferation of clone cells and, consequently, the production of a large number of identical antibodies, the monoclonal antibodies.

Clinical Applications of Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are used in medicine for several purposes.

Diagnostics and Research: Using the antibody-antigen principle, monoclonal antibodies are used to identify target cells in tissue samples in immunocytochemistry, identify the presence of antigens through ELISA and Western blots, and in-home tests kits such as those used for initial screening for pregnancy and COVID-19. Blood and tissue typing also involves the use of monoclonal antibodies.

Treatment of disease: Monoclonal antibodies can treat disease through various mechanisms. These mechanisms include:

  • Marking target antigens for easier identification by the immune system.
  • Directly stimulating the immune system.
  • Transporting drugs to the target cells.
  • Binding to self-proteins to prevent an overactive immune response, angiogenesis, or other downstream reactions.
  • Blocking cell receptors
  • Direct destruction of diseased cells or pathogens.

Monoclonal antibodies are used in the treatment of:

  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Hypercholesteremia
  • Infectious diseases
  • Osteoporosis
  • Drug reversal

Source: McGonigle, P., & Hornby, P. J. (2019). The pharmacology and therapeutic applications of monoclonal antibodies. Pharmacology Research &Amp; Perspectives, 7(6).