Monoclonal antibodies are identical antibodies that are produced from the same immune cell. They can bind only to one protein antigen, so they can be used to target chemicals and cells in the body.
Some common uses of monoclonal antibodies are:
Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) is present in the urine of pregnant women.
Monoclonal antibodies in pregnancy test kits bind with a hormone called hCG, which is only found in the urine of pregnant women. If the hormone is present, there will be a change in colour, which shows a positive result.
Positive result = Woman is pregnant
Doctors use monoclonal antibodies to measure and monitor hormone levels or chemicals in the blood. The monoclonal antibodies are modified so that they will bind to the molecule.
Monoclonal antibodies are also used to identify and diagnose infections by testing for the presence of pathogens.
They can also be bound to a fluorescent dye, which is useful for identifying and locating specific molecules. So if the molecules are in the sample, the antibodies bind to it and a colour change can be observed.
Cancerous cells have antigens on their surface that are not present on healthy body cells. The monoclonal antibodies are designed to bind to antigens on the surface of cancerous cells.
When the monoclonal antibodies are injected into the patient, they will bind with the cancer cells and clump together. This can help with identifying cancerous tumours and treatment as well. The antibodies can have cancer drugs attached to them, or encourage the immune system to attack cancerous cells.