Monoclonal Antibodies

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

What are human monoclonal antibodies?

An antibody is a protein produced by the body's immune system in response to antigens, which are harmful substances. Antigens include bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, chemicals, and other substances the immune system identifies as foreign. Sometimes the body mistakenly identifies normal tissues as foreign and produces antibodies against the tissue. This is the underlying cause of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis or MS.

Antibodies are naturally produced by the immune system. However, scientists can produce antibodies in the lab that mimic the action of the immune system. These man-made (synthetic) antibodies act against proteins that attack normal tissues in people with autoimmune disorders. Man-made antibodies are produced by introducing human genes that produce antibodies into mice or another suitable mammal. The mice then are vaccinated with the antigen that scientists want to produce antibodies against. This causes the immune cells of the mice to produce the desired human antibody. The term monoclonal antibody means that the man-made antibody is synthesized from cloned immune cells, and the identical monoclonal antibody produced binds to one type of antigen. Polyclonal antibodies are synthesized from different immune cells and the antibodies produced bind to multiple antigens.

List and types of monoclonal antibodies (FDA approved)

Here is a list of examples some FDA-approved monoclonal antibody drugs.

Each monoclonal antibody listed above has a role in treating a targeted disease (for example, basiliximab treats transplant rejection while belimumab treats systemic lupus erythematosus).

What are the uses for monoclonal antibodies?

The use of monoclonal antibodies to treat diseases is called immunotherapy therapy because each type of monoclonal antibody will target a specific targeted antigen in the body.

Uses for monoclonal antibodies include:

In these conditions the monoclonal antibody targets and interferes with the action of a chemical or receptor that is involved in the development of the condition that is being treated. For example, a monoclonal antibody used for treating cancer may block a receptor that cancer cells use for preventing the immune system from the destroying the cancer cell. Blocking this receptor allows the immune system to recognize cancer cells and destroy them.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2016

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