Glossary Term:


monoclonal antibodies




man-made antibodies that are designed to lock onto certain antigens (substances that can be recognized by the immune system). Monoclonal antibodies have several uses in diagnosing and treating cancer. Monoclonal antibodies that have been attached to chemotherapy drugs or radioactive substances are able to seek out antigens unique to cancer cells and deliver these treatments directly to the cancer, which kills the cancer cell without harming healthy tissue. “Naked” monoclonal antibodies can attach to cancer cells so that the cancer cells can be found and attacked by the immune system. Research is still going on to learn more ways they can be used to treat cancer. Monoclonal antibodies are also often used to help detect and classify cancer cells under a microscope. Other studies are being done to see if radioactive atoms attached to monoclonal antibodies can be used in imaging tests to detect and locate small groups of cancer cells. See also antibody, antigen, chemotherapy, imaging studies, immunocytochemistry.