AQA GCSE Biology

Revision Notes

3.2.2 Uses of Monoclonal Antibodies

Higher Tier Only

Uses of Monoclonal Antibodies

  • The cloned antibodies that are produced can be to a specific protein on the cell or a particular chemical
  • Monoclonal antibodies have a variety of uses. Some examples include:
    • In pregnancy tests
    • In laboratories to measure the levels of hormones and other chemicals in blood (such as some cancer proteins), or to detect pathogens
    • In research to locate or identify specific molecules in a cell or tissue by binding to them with a fluorescent dye
    • To treat some diseases: for cancer the monoclonal antibody can be bound to a radioactive substance, a toxic drug or a chemical which stops cells growing and dividing. It delivers the substance to the cancer cells without harming other cells in the body

Use of monoclonal antibodies table

Uses of monoclonal antibodies table, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

Exam Tip

You are not expected to recall any specific tests or treatments but given appropriate information, you should be able to explain how they work using the principles of antibody specificity.

 You should be able to describe some of the ways in which monoclonal antibodies can be used in the exam. You should also appreciate the power of monoclonal antibodies and be considerate of ethical issues as a result of their production and use.

Higher Tier Only

Advantages & Disadvantages of Monoclonal Antibodies

  • Monoclonal antibodies have the potential to make big improvements to diagnosis and treatment and when they were first developed there were hopes for their use to become widespread
  • However monoclonal antibodies create more side effects than expected which has hampered their use

Monoclonal antibodies table

Advantages & Disadvantages of Monoclonal Antibodies, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

Exam Tip

You need to be able to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of monoclonal antibodies.

Author: Jenna

Jenna studied at Cardiff University before training to become a science teacher at the University of Bath specialising in Biology (although she loves teaching all three sciences at GCSE level!). Teaching is her passion, and with 10 years experience teaching across a wide range of specifications – from GCSE and A Level Biology in the UK to IGCSE and IB Biology internationally – she knows what is required to pass those Biology exams.
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