Back in 1975, Georges Köhler and Cesar Milstein of the Medical Research Council, Cambridge, England, fused a mouse myeloma cell with a B cell to manufacture monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Their breakthrough was viewed by the scientific community as nothing short of brilliant. In nearly every situation requiring a single component to be isolated - in distinguishing a tumor from normal tissue, for example - monoclonals proved a valuable tool. The natural diversity of these immune system proteins had long beckoned investigators to somehow harness the antibodies' specificity for use in diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as in the research laboratory.

But this was difficult, because the immune system generates a polyclonal antibody response, spewing out a mixed bag of antibodies that respond to different portions of an antigen. Köhler and Milstein's hybridomas - the B cell-cancer cell duo - offered a way to isolate the single-antibody potential of an individual...

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