Polyclonal Antibodies and Prostate Health

Promising new research has shown that a polyclonal antibody method can be used to detect prostate specific antigens (PSA) with extreme sensitivity. PSA levels are used as a critical marker when screening for prostate cancer. The ability of polyclonal antibodies to detect smaller amounts of PSA than previous testing methods could represent a huge leap forward in the early detection and treatment of prostate cancer. 

Polyclonal Antibodies and PSA

Recent research out of South Africa studied two glucose encapsulating nanoliposomes with two distinct lipid formulations. The controlled release of glucose was then utilized in a sandwich-style ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay). This method demonstrated a high level of sensitivity in indirectly detecting PSA. This level of accuracy had not been observed in previously available PSA screening methods.

An antibody, whether used as a means of delivering treatment or as a method of detecting antigens such as in an ELISA test, has essentially the same function, which mimics the natural workings of antibodies produced by our immune system. They work by binding to epitopes, or protein structures that exist on the surfaces of antigen particles. Each antigen, be it a virus, bacteria, or — in this case — a cancer-predicting antigen like PSA, will have its own distinct epitopes. 

Why Do Polyclonal Antibodies Work Better for PSA Screening?

Monoclonal antibodies are produced by identifying an antibody cell that is effective at binding to a target antigen. However, the same antigen, such as a virus, does not often display the exact same epitope shape from patient to patient. Widespread antigens often have both “public” and “private” epitope profiles, which respectively refer to widely-observed epitope shapes and epitope shapes that have only been observed in a single individual’s antigen samples. This can make monoclonal antibodies less effective at detecting antigens with varied epitope profiles. PSA is one such antigen particle that may not always respond consistently to a “standard” detection antibody from patient to patient.

Polyclonal antibodies can improve on this model by binding to a variety of different epitope shapes. Instead of the entire antibody treatment being cloned from a single parent cell, polyclonal antibody development uses several different cells that are each capable of binding to slightly different epitope shapes common to the same antigen. This allows polyclonal antibodies to better detect and treat antigens with inconsistent or rapidly mutating epitope shapes.

What does that mean for PSA detection during prostate cancer screenings? In short, it could represent a total game changer. Earlier and more reliable detection of smaller amounts of PSA can allow doctors to get started on treatment options while the patient is still in early or even precancerous stages.