Both Polyclonal and Monoclonal antibodies have their own advantages which make them useful for different applications.
Large quantities of polyclonal antibody are relatively quick and inexpensive to produce compared to monoclonal antibodies. They are non-specific in that they are capable of recognizing multiple epitopes on any one antigen.
- Can help increase the WB signal as the antibody will bind to more than one epitope.
- Due to recognition of multiple epitopes, polyclonal antibodies can give better results in IP/ChIP assays.
- More tolerant of minor changes in the antigen, e.g., polymorphism, heterogeneity of glycosylation, or slight denaturation.
- Useful when the nature of the antigen is unknown.
- Inexpensive to produce and timeline is short.
- More prone to batch to batch variability.
- Multiple epitopes make it important to check immunogen sequence for any potential cross-reactivity.
- Compared to polyclonal antibodies, homogeneity of monoclonal antibodies is very high.
- If experimental conditions are kept constant, results from monoclonal antibodies will be highly reproducible between experiments.
- All batches will be identical and specific to just one epitope which is a particular advantage when manufacturing procedures must be standardized e.g. clinical tests and therapeutic treatments.
- The high specificity of monoclonal antibodies decreases background noise and cross-reactivity, helps provide reproducible results and ensure efficiency in affinity purification.
- Specific antibody characteristics can be identified and selected e.g. sensitivity requirements and cross reactivity levels can be specified and screened to identify cell lines exhibiting the required characteristics.
- Hybridomas provide an immortal cell line with the ability to produce unlimited quantities of highly specific antibodies.
- Antibodies may be too specific (e.g. less likely to detect across a range of species).
- More vulnerable to the loss of epitope through chemical treatment of the antigen than polyclonal antibodies. This can be offset by pooling two or more monoclonal antibodies to the same antigen.
- Expensive to produce and timeline is long for hybridomas.