Antibodies: Engineering & Therapeutics

Antibodies, also called immunoglobulins, are large Y-shaped proteins which function to identify and help remove foreign antigens or targets such as viruses and bacteria. Antibodies are produced by specialized white blood cells called B lymphocytes (or B cells). When an antigen binds to the B-cell surface, it stimulates the B cell to divide and mature into a group of identical cells called a clone. The mature B cells, called plasma cells, secrete millions of antibodies into the bloodstream and lymphatic system. Every different antibody recognizes a specific foreign antigen. This is because the two tips of its “Y” are specific to each antigen, allowing different antibodies to bind to different foreign antigens. Antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to the presence of an antigen. Antibody engineering has become a well-developed discipline, encompassing discovery methods, production strategies, and modification techniques that have brought forth clinically investigated and marketed therapeutics. The realization of the long-standing goal of production of fully human monoclonal antibodies has focused intensive research on the clinical employment of this potent drug category.

 

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