Antibodies have proved instrumental in health science and other disciplines. In research, they are used as effective reagents to detect target proteins in immunohistochemical analysis, western blotting, and immunofluorescence procedures.
While there are various antibodies, the most common ones are monoclonal or polyclonal. You can obtain both types of antibodies through custom peptide synthesis production by injecting the desired antigen into an animal. The animal’s immune system responds by producing antibodies that target the antigen. The antibodies may also target particular epitope regions within the antigen.
In monoclonal antibodies, the purified cell lines, which act as the source cells, come from a single B cell within the immunity. This makes them very specific since they can only bind to one exclusive epitope region.
Unlike monoclonal antibodies, polyclonal antibodies come from different B cells. Polyclonal antibodies can recognize various epitopes on the same antigen based on their nature. The multi-epitope binding property that these antibodies display also makes them beneficial for many applications.
How are Polyclonal Antibodies Beneficial?
High Antibody Affinity
Some antibodies can only bind to specific antigens or epitope regions, limiting their application in science. This is one limitation that polyclonal antibodies lack, giving them an upper hand in enhanced sensitivity.
Polyclonal antibodies have multi-epitope binding properties. The ‘poly’ nature of polyclonal antibodies enables binding to various antigenic regions of the target. This property allows polyclonal antibodies to portray enhanced sensitivity to multiple target proteins, cells, or organisms for application purposes.
When you subject polyclonal antibodies to different immunoassays and test conditions, you’ll find that they are more likely to bind a specific antigen with a high success rate. This makes them beneficial and more appropriate in research applications.
The enhanced sensitivity of polyclonal antibodies makes them more beneficial given the diversity of human donors. It is also helpful to have antibody types with higher sensitivity ranges since there is a broad set of variances in practical application.
Studies in immunohistochemistry also indicate that polyclonal antibodies can help detect low abundance proteins in samples, including markers and toxins. Their high sensitivity ensures that several antibodies bind to several epitopes.
Antibodies are often sensitive to changes in the environment. A slight change in the environment may render the antibody inactive and useless. Polyclonal antibodies are somehow more resistant to such changes due to their biophysical diversity.
When other types of antibodies may precipitate or become inactive because of environmental changes, the biophysical diversity of polyclonal antibodies gives them an advantage. These antibodies prove to be more stable under such circumstances.
Minor changes in the antigen structure such as glycosylation heterogeneity, slight denaturation, or polymorphism would affect other types of antibodies. Polyclonal antibodies, conversely, show more tolerance.
Useful in Immunohistochemistry and Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
When conducting immunohistochemistry studies, the researchers never know the effects of the tissue fixation. It is also impossible to determine the processing on the epitope, and it is also highly variable. Polyclonal antibodies have proven beneficial in such conditions.
Since they can bind to various epitopes, polyclonal antibodies can be used to recognize specific antigens even in cases where accessibility and changes in the structure of the antigen may affect the epitomes.
Polyclonal antibodies can also be useful in chromatin immunoprecipitation since they can better detect a target. The high affinity of these antibodies helps them enhance the signal from the target protein if it presents with a low expression level.
Used to Detect Unknown Antigens
The high sensitivity nature of polyclonal antibodies makes them helpful in generating secondary antibody reagents. This is because they bind more to various epitopes, hence less discriminate. They can also withstand structural changes on primary antibodies.
Their ability to bind to various epitopes proves helpful when detecting human antibodies using diagnostic assays from poly-ethnic subject samples. This helps minimize false negatives in the samples.
The use of polyclonal antibodies in human treatment is not widespread. But polyclonal antibodies help treat certain complex acute conditions. A perfect example here is snakebite envenoming.
Studies show that polyclonal antibody therapy can help transplant patients by acting as an immunosuppressant. The human application of such a use is still in its infancy, and more research will prove the effectiveness of such therapies.
Applications for Polyclonal Antibodies
Polyclonal antibodies have various advantages, but should you choose them over other types of antibodies? The truth is that each type of antibody is useful for different purposes. So, it all depends on your expected outcomes and the characteristics of the antibodies.
If you are running hemagglutination reactions or diagnostic assays, you better go with polyclonal antibodies since they can recognize different epitopes of the target antigen.
In industrial applications, polyclonal antibodies are used when the antigen is unknown. They help in immunoassays by binding to different epitopes and enhancing the signal, providing better detection.
Polyclonal antibodies have many applications and are quicker and cheaper to produce. This combination makes them highly beneficial in research and medical application. They can be used in different types of research to detect unknown antigens and to produce medication.
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