Overlooked benefits of using polyclonal antibodies

Biotechniques. 2018 Sep;65(3):127-136. doi: 10.2144/btn-2018-0065. Epub 2018 Aug 9.


The benefits of polyclonal antibodies as tools for assay-specific target discovery and detection are numerous. As the future of basic research, diagnostics and biomarker discovery is dependent on high-quality reproducible data, there is a need to understand the importance and benefits of these valuable tools. All antibody forms - polyclonal, hybridoma-based monoclonal and recombinant monoclonal - have pros and cons for development, validation and use. Yet, polyclonal antibodies are embroiled in a firestorm of controversy concerning data reproducibility. We address best practices for developing and using polyclonal antibodies, pitfalls to their use and how to avoid them, and benefits to the life science community. Eliminating their use risks overlooking the unique benefits of polyclonal antibodies as 'fit-for-purpose' life science tools.

Keywords: antibodies; antibody comparisons; multi-antigen binding; polyclonal antibodies; validation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / chemistry*
  • Antibody Affinity
  • Binding Sites, Antibody
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design*


  • Antibodies