5 things to you should know about monoclonal antibodies at GCSE level

What is a monoclonal antibody? If you’re wondering that very thing, you’re not alone. Significant advancements in medicine over the past decade or so have been due to one important technology in particular: monoclonal antibodies.

What is a monoclonal antibody?

A monoclonal antibody (mAb) is a unique protein created inside the body. A type of immunoglobulin, they are highly specialized proteins that are designed to only bind to one particular antigen. The monoclonal antibodies are mostly Y shaped and they are complimentary with the shape of the binding site of the target antigen. This specificity allows them to target and treat specific diseases, making them a valuable medical tool.

Here are five things you should know about monoclonal antibodies:

#1 Monoclonal antibodies are engineered proteins

They can target and bind with specific antigens. Monoclonal antibodies deliver unprecedented accuracy and targeting power to revolutionize modern medicine. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins derived from living cells that target specific substances in the body.

Monoclonal antibodies are proteins that were first discovered by César Milstein and Georges Köhler in 1975. They have revolutionized treatment of many diseases and even earned the pair a Nobel Prize.

#2 Monoclonal antibodies make it possible to detect and diagnose many diseases.

Monoclonal antibodies make it possible to detect and diagnose many diseases. But there’s a lot more to these targeted therapies than meets the eye.

Monoclonal antibodies are used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other diseases. These drugs can also be used as a diagnostic tool for certain conditions. Antibody-based tests can be used in many areas of medicine and health care, such as infectious disease testing, cancer screening and diagnostics, allergy tests, pregnancy testing, fertility testing and genetic testing to name just a few.

Doctors use monoclonal antibodies when screening for infections and cancers. When doctors are trying to determine if someone has an infection caused by bacteria or viruses, they may test for specific proteins produced by specific microbes.

More than 100 monoclonal antibody drugs have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and some of them are widely used in therapeutics and diagnostics.

Monoclonal antibodies are used therapeutically to treat cancer by targeting tumor cells with lethal toxins or radioactive molecules (radioimmunotherapy), as well as other types of cancer treatment. They can also be used to deliver drugs directly to tumors in the body (targeted drug delivery).

Some of the monoclonal antibodies for cancer treatment are called “biological response modifiers.”

In fact, these medications have become one of the top-selling classes of drugs in the entire world, with estimated $150 billion in annual sales in 2019.

#3 Monoclonal antibodies are made in laboratories using recombinant DNA technology.

A monoclonal antibody is a new type of laboratory-made protein that is similar to an antibody produced by the human immune system.

This means that genes from any cell line can be inserted into bacteria or mammalian cells and then grown in culture (in a lab). This process allows researchers to produce millions of identical antibodies and lasts for decades.

Monoclonal antibodies are often produced in bioreactors — large tanks filled with cultured cells that help maintain ideal growing conditions for the B-cells. Throughout their growth cycle, scientists can monitor how efficiently the B-cells are producing their desired protein by testing samples taken from the bioreactor.

However, the immune system can also produce monoclonal antibodies in response to a disease.

Monoclonal antibodies are created in a laboratory. They are essentially identical because they are made from one type of immune cell–a B cell–and they only bind with one antigen (a substance that can trigger an immune response). Monoclonal antibodies can be further subdivided into two categories: humanized monoclonal antibodies and chimeric monoclonal antibodies. Humanized monoclonal antibodies contain human sequences with murine variable regions while chimeric are made up entirely of non-human sequences. Chimeric monoclonal antibodies are less common than their humanized counterparts.

Monoclonal antibodies bind to substances on the surface of diseased cells, proteins or antigens, allowing them to kill those diseased cells, slow down their growth or halt their function. For this reason, they can be used to treat many diseases. They can also be put into research labs to help track down and identify new disease markers.

#4 Monoclonal antibodies are made in human immune cells as well.

Monoclonal Antibodies are a type of protein produced by the immune system. They are used to identify and neutralize foreign substances, such as bacteria or viruses.

T-cells are a type of white blood cell that play an important role in fighting disease. When they encounter a foreign organism (a virus, bacteria, or cancer cell), they produce antibodies as part of their immune response. Antibodies are simply proteins that recognize specific foreign substances, like bacteria or viruses. When an antibody binds to a foreign particle, it signals other T-cells to attack and destroy the invader. The problem is that for this immune reaction to work properly, T-cells need to recognize only the foreign substance and not self-tissues. This is where monoclonal antibodies come in handy!

A monoclonal antibody (mAb) is an antibody produced by a single B cell that recognizes one specific antigen. This means that all mAbs against a particular antigen are, in theory, identical, although small differences between antibodies of the same class may result in slightly different affinities for the target antigen.

#5 Monoclonal antibody treatments have side effects as well.

Monoclonal antibody drugs have revolutionized the treatment of many cancers and other diseases by targeting specific antigens that appear only on tumor cells or infectious agents.

Like any other treatment option, monoclonal antibodies can be allergic to specific patients. This form of drugs can also cause nausea, vomiting, fever, skin reactions, lethargy as well.

Making monoclonal antibodies from stimulating mouse lymphocytes

  1. Human cancer cell (antigen) is injected to mouse.
  2. B lymphocytes of mouse make copies of itself.
  3. More lymphocytes make more monoclonal antibodies that are complimentary to the antigen
  4. Lymphocytes combine with tumor cells and create a hybridoma.
  5. Hybridoma cells replicate and make more and more monoclonal antibodies.
  6. These monoclonal antibodies can be harvested for diagnostic or therapeutic uses.

What are the advantages and the disadvantages of monoclonal antibodies?


  • Very specific
  • Does not harm other host cells
  • Can help detect and treat diseases that are otherwise impossible


  • Might be discomforting for the animals when used for making monoclonal antibodies
  • Treatments can have side effects
  • Some treatments may be not effective
  • Preparation can be very expensive
Share this post
About Author

Chaleepa Mallawa

Chaleepa is working as a doctor based in Sri Lanka. He has interest in content creation based on health, science, tech and motivation.