Our earth is a home of microscopic creatures that we cannot see with naked eyes. These microbes influence all aspects of human lives. Some are responsible for giving us products like wine and cheese, whereas many are responsible for deadly diseases. Fortunately, the human body has its defense mechanism to protect itself from such microbial attacks.
The immunity system of the human body consists of a wide range of cells. These cells interact with each other and synthesize molecules to eradicate the different types of infections. B cells are one of such immune cells that produce antibodies in response to infectious agents. These antibodies act as a marker for destruction. They bind to respective invading agents and lead to their eradication by other cells of the immune system.
What are the Uses of Antibodies?
All animals, including humans, possess the inherent ability to produce antibodies that help fight infections. The antibodies are target-specific, meaning the body has different types of antibodies in response to various infections. These antibodies detect the antigen, i.e., foreign substances. Scientists harness this ability of antibodies to detect numerous molecules for the diagnosis of diseases.
Antibodies are particular when it comes to recognizing molecules. Currently, no other technology provides researchers a more accurate way of molecular recognition than antibodies. As a result, they have become an extremely useful tool in research. Researchers design a type of antibody called monoclonal antibodies that can target specific antigens. Various companies produce monoclonal antibodies on a larger scale to fight, detect and research multiple diseases. Here are five things you need to know about antibody generation.
- The Process of Antibody Generation
The process through which cells produce adequate antibodies for experimental and therapeutic application is called antibody generations. Researchers inject animals with the antigen that elicits an immune response, which leads to the generation of polyclonal antibodies. On the other hand, researchers use immune cell lines to generate monoclonal antibodies.
Nowadays, healthcare professionals use diagnostic tools like ELISA kits to detect specific antibodies or antigens in the patient’s system. Many of such tests consist of monoclonal antibodies, which increases the accuracy of the diagnosis.
- The Successful Antibody Generation
The generation of antibodies is an intricate process as even the smallest mistakes may lead to undesirable results. The researchers have to adopt a careful approach and strictly follow the SOPs (Standard Operating Protocols) to avoid such consequences. Here are some things they do to ensure successful antibody generation.
- Purifying the target antigen
- Selecting a suitable carrier protein
- Combining the carrier with antigen to create potent immunogen
- Following strict immunization schedule for the test animals
- Modifying Antibodies for Further Uses
In the beginning, antibodies are in crude form. So, they need to go through processes like purification and fragmentation to serve their various purposes.
- Purification of Antibodies:
Professionals isolate polyclonal antibodies from serum and monoclonal antibodies from ascites fluid or supernatant of hybridoma cell lines. Depending on the type of antibodies and their applications, they use different methods like zone electrophoresis, ion-exchange chromatography, gel filtration, etc.
- Characterization of Antibodies:
Three activities collectively complete the characterization of Antibodies.
This involves the identification of antibodies possessing affinities for specific antigens. It also helps to determine the animals and cell lines producing particular antibodies.
Such a method helps to quantify the antibody concentration. This helps to calibrate the functional dilution of samples that ensure the accuracy of detection assays, like ELISA.
This involves defining the class and subclass of the antibodies.
- Fragmentation of Antibodies:
This process allows the modification of antibodies for specific uses. Fragmentation of antibodies involves,
- Conjugation of antibodies other enzymes or markers
- Immobilization of solid surfaces
- Breaking into smaller antigen-binding units
4. Different forms of Antibodies
Here are the three main types of antibodies.
- Polyclonal antibodies (pAbs)
Poly means many, so the name dictates that these antibodies can bind different types of receptors. They serve various purposes as pAbs are flexible when binding to a wide range of antigens. The process to generate this type of antibody is easy and inexpensive.
- Hybridoma monoclonal antibodies (mAbs):
They are very specific when it comes to binding antigens meaning they bind to one particular antigen in the mixture. The production of monoclonal antibodies is a labor-intensive process.
- Recombinant monoclonal antibodies (rAbs):
Professionals use recombinant DNA technology to make this type of antibody. They isolate the genes responsible for producing antibodies and inject them into DNA vectors. Later, they transfer the vectors into hosts like yeast, bacteria, or cell lines to create rAbs. These antibodies offer the same advantages as monoclonal antibodies. Thus, researchers use them in the majority of the applications as an alternative to monoclonal antibodies.
5. Applications of Antibodies
Antibodies are an integral part of passive immunity from infectious agents. The majority of vaccines trigger the production of antibodies. These antibodies eventually stop or interfere with the invasion of pathogens from the body. Functional antibodies trigger an appropriate immune response, which leads to the eradication of germs from the body.
Along with serving as a diagnostic tool, antibody medicines are another critical application of the antibody generation process. The production of antibody medicines is a complex process involving generating antibodies of predetermined antigen-specificity. Moreover, antibody vaccine is also an application of the antibody generation process.
(Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/covid-19-testing-analysing-5752221/)
The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that time is crucial when it comes to diagnosing the infection. Quick detection of the infection enables the health care professional to start the treatment as soon as possible, which eventually saves more lives. The antibody generation process has allowed us to get various medical tests on time through antibody kits. A couple of decades back, we could only produce grams of antibodies. However, technology has changed this picture, as we can now produce antibodies in much larger quantities. The antibody generation serves numerous purposes in the modern world, from immediate detection of the infection to cancer treatment.