Understanding Recombinant Antibodies: A Technical Overview

Recombinant antibodies are engineered proteins used in diagnostics, therapeutics, and research. They offer advantages like specificity, consistency, and scalability. This blog will explain what recombinant antibodies are, how they are produced, and their applications.

What are Recombinant Antibodies?

Recombinant antibodies are antibodies made using recombinant DNA technology. Unlike traditional monoclonal antibodies, which are produced by hybridoma cells, recombinant antibodies are created by cloning the genes that encode an antibody into a host cell, such as bacteria, yeast, or mammalian cells.

Recombinant antibody generation in phage

Production Process

The production of recombinant antibodies involves several steps:

  1. Gene Cloning: Isolate the genes that encode the heavy and light chains of an antibody and clone these genes into expression vectors. Expression vectors are DNA molecules used to introduce the antibody genes into host cells.
  2. Transformation/Transfection: Introduce the expression vectors containing the antibody genes into host cells. In bacterial systems, this process is called transformation, while in mammalian cells, it is known as transfection.
  3. Expression: Inside the host cells, the antibody genes are transcribed and translated to produce the antibody proteins. The choice of host cells depends on the required post-translational modifications. For instance, mammalian cells are used when glycosylation is necessary.
  4. Purification: Purify the expressed antibodies from the host cell culture. This step often involves affinity chromatography, where antibodies bind to a specific ligand attached to a chromatography column, allowing impurities to be washed away.
  5. Characterization: Characterize the final product to ensure it meets the required specifications. This includes assessing its binding affinity, specificity, and stability.



Recombinant antibodies have various applications:

  1. Therapeutics: Used in the treatment of diseases such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, and infectious diseases. They can target specific antigens precisely, reducing off-target effects.
  2. Diagnostics: Used in assays to detect the presence of specific biomarkers. Their high specificity and affinity make them ideal for use in ELISA, immunohistochemistry, and flow cytometry.
  3. Research: Used to study protein function, signaling pathways, and cellular processes. Their consistent production and customization options allow for reproducible and specific experimental results.


Recombinant antibodies offer several advantages over traditional monoclonal antibodies:

  • Consistency: Recombinant production ensures batch-to-batch consistency, crucial for reproducible results in research and clinical applications.
  • Customization: Ability to engineer antibodies with specific properties, such as increased affinity or altered effector functions, allows for tailored solutions to specific problems.
  • Ethical Considerations: Recombinant antibody production does not require the use of animals, addressing ethical concerns associated with traditional methods.


Recombinant antibodies are a powerful tool in modern biotechnology, offering specificity, consistency, and flexibility. Their applications in therapeutics, diagnostics, and research continue to grow. As technology advances, the development and use of recombinant antibodies are likely to expand, providing new solutions to biological challenges.

20th Jun 2024 Wiem Gasri

Recent Posts