Efficient laboratory-scale production of monoclonal antibodies using membrane-based high-density cell culture technology

Mohamed Trebak, Jae Min Chong, Dorothee Herlyn, David W. Speicher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) are important tools used in basic research as well as in the imaging and therapy of cancer. Many countries have limited the use of animals for large-scale production of MAbs, obliging laboratories to find efficient in vitro alternatives to ascites production. In this report we describe a protocol for laboratory-scale production of MAbs by culturing hybridoma cells in the two-chamber cell culture device CELLine 1000. This culture flask supports high cell densities (107-108 cells/ml) and generates high concentrations of MAbs (0.7-2.5 mg/ml). Two hybridomas producing MAbs directed against the gastrointestinal antigen GA733-2, GA733 MAb and CO17-1A MAb, were evaluated over culture periods of up to two months using several alternative conditions. Two different sets of conditions are reported; the first using serum-supplemented medium (20% v/v) and the second using serum-free medium (SFM). Average weekly yields of the purified MAbs in serum-supplemented medium were 24 mg and 33 mg, and in SFM were 21 mg and 17 mg for GA733 MAb and CO17-1A MAb, respectively. Experimental variables that can affect antibody production and economy include: nutrient medium and cell compartment medium compositions (cell line dependent), the proportion of the cell compartment medium harvested every 3 days (50% to 80% with 80% optimal) and the frequency of nutrient medium changes (3 to 9 days with 6 days as most cost effective). Protein-A Sepharose purification followed by antigen-specific affinity purification showed that MAbs obtained from serum-supplemented cultures contain less than 0.6% of bovine IgG contamination, while MAbs obtained from serum-free cultures contained no extraneous IgG. In addition, MAbs from both culture media were fully active (essentially 100%) as measured by their ability to bind to an antigen column. In contrast, the same MAbs purified from ascites using Protein-A-Sepharose typically contained a major portion of inactive IgG. This in vitro method for laboratory-scale production of MAbs (10 to 500 mg) proved to be simple, reproducible and cost effective. It represents a useful alternative to the in vivo production of MAbs in mice. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Immunological Methods
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 19 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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