Monoclonal Antibodies

Most antigens offer multiple epitopes and therefore induce proliferation and differentiation of a variety of B-cell clones, each derived from a B cell that recognizes a particular epitope. The resulting serum antibodies are heterogeneous, comprising a mixture of antibodies, each specific for one epitope. Such a polyclonal antibody response facilitates the localization, phagocytosis, and complement-mediated lysis of antigen; it thus has clear advantages for the organism in vivo.

Unfortunately, the antibody heterogeneity that increases immune protection in vivo often reduces the efficacy of an antiserum for various in vitro uses. For most research, diagnostic, and therapeutic purposes, monoclonal antibodies, derived from a single clone and thus specific for a single epitope, are preferable.

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