omalizumab, Xolair

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GENERIC NAME: omalizumab


DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Omalizumab is an injectable drug that is used for treating asthma. Omalizumab is a protein that resembles one type of human antibody. Antibodies are proteins produced by the body that recognize foreign substances such as bacteria (that cause infection) and pollens (that cause allergies). Once they recognize a foreign substance, the antibodies attach to receptors on two types of cells in tissues and blood, mast cells and basophils. These cells then release chemicals that cause an allergic reaction that leads to inflammation. Omalizumab blocks the receptors on the surfaces of the mast cells and basophils to which antibodies attach, thereby preventing antibodies from attaching to the cells. As a result, the cells do not release their chemicals, and the allergic reaction and inflammation are prevented. In asthmatic individuals, allergic reactions often cause attacks of asthma. Omalizumab reduces the attacks of asthma by preventing the allergic reactions caused by foreign substances. Omalizumab was approved by the FDA in June 2003.

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