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The definition of various levels of lymphocyte differentiation by using a number of immunologic parameters has been one of the most productive and useful exercises of the past decade. Studies in several laboratories have indicated that cell surface antigens can be highly discriminating with respect to cellular identity in the hemopoietic system. Such marker technology has proved to be of great value in dissecting functional heterogeneity of lymphocyte populations that was previously veiled in morphological uniformity. It is also now well established that lymphatic leukemias and lymphomas can be further subdivided into clinically relevant subgroups by use of immunologic markers. The key to the immunodiagnosis of certain cell types is dependent upon the availability of heteroantisera directed against stable cell surface antigens. Traditionally prepared antisera have to be rendered specific by extensive absorption procedures. Given the diversity of the immune response and the complexity of the absorption procedure, it is difficult to reproduce such antibodies with identical specificity. Since the serum supply from one animal is naturally limited, this type f antisera is normally not used by more than a few laboratories. It appears that essentially all these problems associated with classical heteroantisera have been solved by the introduction of the antibody producing hybridoma technology of Koehler and Milstein. With this technique immune mouse B lymphocytes are fused with myeloma cells. The resultant cell hybrids retain both the antibody producing capacity of the B lymphocyte and the capacity of the B lymphocyte and the capacity for indefinite growth of the myeloma line, so that after cloning there may exist an immortal cell line producing high concentrations of antibody of a single molecular species. Besides the advantage of uniformity, precision, and unlimited supply, a second merit of the technique becomes evident; antibodies against minor determinants that are hidden in conventional polyclonal antisera, can be prepared in purity by the appropriate selection procedure even though non-purified antigens were used for immunization. Thus, renewed interest has arisen to further characterize differentiation antigens of human lymhoiesis and in lymphatic malignances. The use of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in studies of human lymphocytes, leukemia and lymphoma is rapidly expanding and it is beyond the scope of this editorial to provide a comprehensive review of this field. The published proceedings of a recent conference on this subject will give access to more information. Since the great majority of papers published to date deal with MAbs against antigens on lymphoid cells, a somewhat arbitrary selection was necessary that focusses on the results with well established and widely used in mAbs, most of which are already commercially available.

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Bibliographic Reference: BLUT, VOL. 47 (1983), PP. 247-261
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