Differentiating Between Polyclonal Antibodies And Monoclonal Antibodies


When it comes to the general health-based research applications, polyclonal antibodies could prove to be highly advantageous. However, if the applications revolve around therapeutic drug development or diagnostic manufacturing where a huge volume of identical antibodies are required for a single epitope, monoclonal antibodies would fit in the best. Over and all, the advantages of polyclonal antibodies usually outweigh the monoclonal antibodies.  

Defining Polyclonal Antibody

Polyclonal antibody basically refers to a collection of antibodies from various B Cells that have the ability to recognize multiple epitopes on the same antigen. Every single antibody from the list has the ability to recognize one unique epitope that is located, within the antigen.  


Polyclonal antibodies are inexpensive to produce. They can also be produced within a quick succession (could be made ready under a period of 4 months). They can be stored easily, without much fuss. They promise to be highly tolerant and show a proper stability against buffer changes and pH imbalance. They also promise much higher antibody affinity against antigens because of their recognition power from multiple epitopes. They also have the ability to detect multiple epitopes.  


Although disadvantages are minimal, there are certain important ones to consider. It has been tested that polyclonal antibodies tend to show variability between the different animal batches at different sets of time. They also come with a higher level of potentiality for cross reactivity because of their ability to recognize multiple epitopes. In order to minimize the cross-reactivity process, affinity purification for the serum must be carried out.  

Defining Monoclonal antibody

Before differentiating polyclonal antibodies vs monoclonal antibodies, you need to understand what monoclonal antibodies actually are. A monoclonal antibody basically represents antibody from one single B-Cell producing antibody. This allows it to stay bound to only one unique epitope. Every single antibody in polyclonal mixture can be technically termed as monoclonal antibody.  


In comparison to the polyclonal antibodies, the advantages are fewer for monoclonal antibodies. Among the fewer advantages, the most notable ones are defined. Monoclonal antibodies have the ability to produce identical antibodies at a high-volumetric scale. They also ensure the minimal probability when it comes to cross reactivity. They could provide much better results when it comes to the quantification of protein levels.  


Monoclonal antibodies are more expensive when it comes to the production part.  They also require more time to get developed. The storage requirements for the clones are more demanding than polyclonal antibodies. Also, detecting the protein in their altered conformation or denatured state is less robustly handled.  

If you go through the advantages and disadvantages of both polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies, the differences between these two would be clearly visible. Different types of antibodies are used for medical research purpose. They are looked down upon as the necessary elements to improve the human general health and prevent cancerous cells from developing, within the human body.

Author Bio:

Lucy Jones is a bio-molecular specialist. In this article, she tries to compare polyclonal antibodies vs. monoclonal antibodies.