Microbiology and Monoclonal Antibodies: A New Key to Diagnosis and Therapy
The use of antibodies in both the diagnosis and treatment of infectious disease has a long and honourable history, dating from the late 19th century with Louis Pasteur’s work on the prevention of many infections of both animals and man. Pasteur and his colleagues and successors all realised that infected or immunised animals, including man, developed substances in the blood which helped to combat subsequent infection. These substances, later termed antibodies, could also be detected in the laboratory where the reactions which occurred when blood serum from immunised animals was mixed with the organisms used for the immunisation procedure were studied in detail by Ehrlich, Bordet, Buchner, von Behring and many others, the founding fathers of the science of immunology. Animals immunised with the organisms or chemicals to be studied were used as the source of antibodies for the development of diagnostic tests, and such polyclonal xenoantisera have been the mainstay of diagnostic microbiology and research for the past hundred years until the advent of monoclonal antibodies (Köhler and Milstein, 1975; Campbell, 1984).
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