Infectious diseases are a leading cause of death around the globe. The fight against infectious disease lies in combating the infectious pathogens that invade the body and ravage it at a cellular level. Polyclonal antibodies have proved effective in fighting a host of infectious diseases, including the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Polyclonal antibodies are also used in the treatment of various autoimmune disorders and even some cancers.

Polyclonal antibodies are actually composed of several antibodies that are typically formed by combining different B-cell clones of an animal, such as a rabbit, mouse, or even a horse. These antibodies identify and subsequently bind to multiple epitopes of a single antigen and then form lattices with the antigens, anchoring the antibody to the antigen. Polyclonal antibodies are oftentimes more effective against antigens that mutate, like Covid-19, or typical cancer cells that naturally mutate against specific monoclonal antibody treatments designed to target one specific area of the cancer antigen. 

Polyclonal Antibodies in the Fight Against Cancer

Monoclonal antibodies are effective in creating remission of cancer growth up until cancer cells mutate. These mutated cells are called tumor cell escape variants. These variants are no longer affected by the monoclonal antibody used to target the cancer cells, leaving the tumor to grow unchecked. One way to minimize the possibility of tumor cell escape variants is to use a polyclonal antibody that targets multiple areas of the antigen, increasing the chances of destroying the cell before it can mutate. 

Instead of targeting one area of the antigen and hoping the antibody will destroy it before it can replicate or mutate, polyclonal antibodies allow you to target multiple areas of the antigen and decrease the antigen’s ability to mutate while increasing the antibody’s chances of destroying the cell before it can multiply or mutate. Polyclonal antibody treatments continue to be a factor in the fight against cancer. Research shows that these treatments are becoming increasingly effective as scientists and medical professionals work together to find a cure. In some cases, researchers have developed a multiple-prong attack by combining polyclonal antibody treatments with chemotherapeutics and radiation therapy. 

Polyclonal Antibodies in the Fight Against Covid-19

Monoclonal antibodies were initially used against the Covid-19 virus with considerable efficacy. However, efficacy diminished when the virus mutated into the Omicron variant. Like the cancer cell example, the monoclonal antibody treatments targeting one specific area of the virus lost their ability to be effective in combating the Covid-19 virus. Research is still ongoing in the creation of effective polyclonal antibody treatment, but a large-scale clinical trial has been ongoing since August of 2020, with positive results to date. The trial is testing SAB-185, a polyclonal antibody that has shown high efficacy when administered to patients with mild or moderate symptoms of Covid-19. It has passed the early stages of trials and has been approved for Phase 3 at the University of Texas Southwestern as of January of this year. Expectations are decidedly positive that this treatment will pass trials and be used prolifically against the Covid-19 virus.

Immunology has been studied and practiced as early as 1890. Monoclonal antibodies were invented in 1975. Technology has increased the pace of research, thus granting technological advancements much more rapidly than ever before. Medical advances are improving the quality of life for humans and animals alike. Fighting infectious disease is a large part of that improvement, with polyclonal antibodies and recombinant technology at the forefront of that research. With the polyclonal antibody’s ability to multi-target areas of an antigen simultaneously and recombinant technology research providing more advanced gene sequencing to improve the targeting of protein molecules that are more effective against antigens, the research behind the fight against infectious diseases will continue to give us more ways to discover treatments and cures and save more lives.


What are Polyclonal Antibodies (pAbs)? (

Recombinant polyclonal antibodies for cancer therapy – Sharon – 2005 – Journal of Cellular Biochemistry – Wiley Online Library