- 1Molecular Immunology Research Laboratories, School of Health Sciences, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton WV1 1DJ, UK
- Dr Nelson e-mail:
- Accepted 8 February 2000
Monoclonal antibodies are essential tools for many molecular immunology investigations. In particular, when used in combination with techniques such as epitope mapping and molecular modelling, monoclonal antibodies enable the antigenic profiling and visualisation of macromolecular surfaces. In addition, monoclonal antibodies have become key components in a vast array of clinical laboratory diagnostic tests. Their wide application in detecting and identifying serum analytes, cell markers, and pathogenic agents has largely arisen through the exquisite specificity of these unique reagents. Furthermore, the continuous culture of hybridoma cells that produce these antibodies offers the potential of an unlimited supply of reagent. In essence, when compared with the rather limited supply of polyclonal antibody reagents, the feature of a continuous supply enables the standardisation of both the reagent and the assay technique. Clearly, polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of generation, cost, and overall applications. Ultimately, monoclonal antibodies are only produced when necessary because their production is time consuming and frustrating, although greatly rewarding (at least most of the time!). This is especially apparent when a monoclonal antibody can be applied successfully in a routine pathology laboratory or can aid in the clinical diagnosis and treatment of patients. In this article, the generation and application of monoclonal antibodies are demystified to enable greater understanding and hopefully formulate novel ideas for clinicians and scientists alike.