What are polyclonal, monoclonal and recombinant antibodies?

​​Key differences between polyclonal, monoclonal and recombinant antibodies.

Polyclonal antibodies

Polyclonal antibodies are a heterogeneous mix of antibodies, derived from the immune response of multiple B-cells, and each one recognizes a different epitope on the same antigen.

Because polyclonal antibodies are composed of a mixture of antibodies that represents the natural immune response to an antigen, they are prone to a higher risk of batch-to-batch variability than monoclonal antibodies. 

Monoclonal antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies come from a single B-cell parent clone and therefore only recognize a single epitope per antigen. These B-cells are immortalized by fusion with hybridoma cells, allowing for long-term generation of identical monoclonal antibodies.

Because monoclonal antibodies specifically detect a particular epitope on the antigen, they are less likely than polyclonal antibodies to cross-react with other proteins.

Recombinant antibodies

Recombinant monoclonal antibodies are developed in vitro using synthetic genes. The encoding sequences can be carefully controlled, allowing for optimized binding and improved reproducibility over monoclonal antibodies produced from hybridoma. 

Read more about recombinant antibodies.

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