Producing monoclonal antibodies


    • Students should be able to describe some of the ways in which monoclonal antibodies can be used.

Some examples include:

  • for diagnosis such as in pregnancy tests
  • in laboratories to measure the levels of hormones and other chemicals in blood, or to detect pathogens
  • in research to locate or identify specific molecules in a cell or tissue by binding to them with a fluorescent dye
  • to treat some diseases: for cancer the monoclonal antibody can be bound to a radioactive substance, a toxic drug or a chemical which stops cells growing and dividing. It delivers the substance to the cancer cells without harming other cells in the body.
  • Students are not expected to recall any specific tests or treatments but given appropriate information they should be able to explain how they work.
  1. Monoclonal antibodies create more side effects than expected. They are not yet as widely used as everyone hoped when they were first developed.

Explain why data is needed to answer scientific questions, and why it may be uncertain, incomplete or not available. Outline a simple ethical argument about the rights and wrongs of a new technology.