Antibody Basics: Rabbit Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies developed in mice have been used in thousands of applications since being developed by Caesar Milstein and Georges Kohler in 1975. Since then, entire companies have built this process, modified it, and turned it into their own process for acquiring new products. We are now seeing the emergence of a new technique this time for producing custom rabbit monoclonal antibodies.

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Rabbit monoclonal antibodies are of interest because rabbit antibodies have about 10-100 times more affinity than mouse monoclonal antibodies, which gives them an advantage in many experiments. Even CiteAb reported an increase in rabbit monoclonal antibody use over the past year. 

However, the development of rabbit monoclonal antibodies is a considerable challenge and various methods of development have been used, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Here I will outline the most common techniques used to develop rabbit monoclonal antibodies: rabbit hybridoma, phage display, B cells.

Rabbit hybridoma

The rabbit hybridoma technique is very similar to that described in mouse hybridoma technology: the animals are immunized and when the antibody titer is highest, B cells are collected from the spleen of the selected host. These B cells then hybridize with myeloma cells, creating a perpetual cell line that continuously produces specific monoclonal antibodies.