Living Systems

Monoclonal Antibody Production

Technical Applications


Monoclonal antibody therapies involve the development of specific antibodies directed against antigens located on the surface of tumor cell. While antibodies alone can be used to kill cancer cells, they are most often used as carriers of other substances for either therapeutic or diagnostic purposes.


These techniques are highly patient specific and require that samples of the patients tumor cells be taken and processed to produce specific antibodies to the tumor associated antigen. In order for this to work a sufficient quantity of antigens unique to the tumor cells must be present. The tumor antigens must be sufficiently different from the antigens elaborated by normal cells to provoke the desired antibody response. Monoclonal antibody treatments still have significant limitations.


The primary contribution of monoclonal antibody technology is to the health of the U.S. population. This technology also contributes to job creation and global competitiveness of the drug and medical diagnostics industries and greater efficiency of the health care industry. By providing better tools for military doctors, it also contributes to U.S. warfighting capabilities.


While there are noteworthy British and French programs in these areas, the bulk of the research and subsequent exploitation by biotechnology firms is occurring in the U.S. supported by venture capital and alliances with the large pharmaceutical companies.