- What are human monoclonal antibodies?
- List and types of monoclonal antibodies (FDA approved)
- What are the uses for monoclonal antibodies?
- What are the side effects of monoclonal antibodies?
- What drugs or other compounds interact with monoclonal antibodies?
- What formulations of monoclonal antibodies are available?
- Is monoclonal antibody therapy safe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
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.
- abciximab (Reopro)
- adalimumab (Humira, Amjevita)
- alefacept (Amevive)
- alemtuzumab (Campath)
- basiliximab (Simulect)
- belimumab (Benlysta)
- bezlotoxumab (Zinplava)
- canakinumab (Ilaris)
- certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)
- cetuximab (Erbitux)
- daclizumab (Zenapax, Zinbryta)
- denosumab (Prolia, Xgeva)
- efalizumab (Raptiva)
- golimumab (Simponi, Simponi Aria)
- inflectra (Remicade)
- ipilimumab (Yervoy)
- ixekizumab (Taltz)
- natalizumab (Tysabri)
- nivolumab (Opdivo)
- olaratumab (Lartruvo)
- omalizumab (Xolair)
- palivizumab (Synagis)
- panitumumab (Vectibix)
- pembrolizumab (Keytruda)
- rituximab (Rituxan)
- tocilizumab (Actemra)
- trastuzumab (Herceptin)
- secukinumab (Cosentyx)
- ustekinumab (Stelara)
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:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cardiovascular disease
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Crohn's disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Transplant rejection, and several more conditions
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.
What are the side effects of monoclonal antibodies?
These side effects are compiled from side effects listed for several monoclonal antibodies. Each type of monoclonal antibody has its own side effect profile and may or may not cause some of the side effects listed here.
Common side effects of monoclonal antibodies include:
- Allergic reactions
- High blood glucose levels
Other side effects of monoclonal antibodies include:
- Shortness of breath
- Peripheral edema
- Muscle aches and pain
- Decreased appetite
- Increased triglyceride levels
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
Serious side effects of monoclonal antibodies may include one or more of the following:
- Low blood pressure
- Serious infections
- Serum sickness
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
- Arterial and venous blood clots
- Congestive heart failure
- Interstitial lung disease
- Generation of antibodies
- Gastrointestinal perforation
- Reduced white blood cell counts
What drugs or other compounds interact with monoclonal antibodies?
- Serious infections are more likely to occur when monoclonal antibodies are combined with other drugs that suppress the immune system (for example, steroids).
- Another example of drug interaction is that the drug methotrexate reduces the absorption of adalimumab (monoclonal antibody) by 29%-49%, but no adjustments to the dose of adalimumab need to be made when methotrexate is given concomitantly.
- Monoclonal antibodies may interfere with the effectiveness of vaccines. Live vaccines, including attenuated vaccines, should not be used while patients are being treated with monoclonal antibodies. Patients should complete all recommended immunizations prior to receiving monoclonal antibodies.
What formulations of monoclonal antibodies are available?
Monoclonal antibodies are designed to be administered by injection. They are supplied as:
- Lyophilized powder for reconstitution
- Solution for injection
Latest Cancer News
Is monoclonal antibody therapy safe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
- Monoclonal antibodies have not been adequately studied in pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding. Some monoclonal antibodies, for example, nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda), may be harmful to the fetus because of their mechanism of action and from other results obtained from animal studies.
- It is not known whether monoclonal antibodies are present in breast milk. Mothers who are breastfeeding should decide whether to stop or discontinue the monoclonal antibody because many drugs, including large proteins like monoclonal antibodies, are excreted in breast milk and there is a risk of serious adverse effects in the infant.
Monoclonal antibodies or MABs are one type of biological therapy to treat certain types of cancer and arthritis; multiple sclerosis, heart disease, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis); psoriasis; and transplant rejection. Common side effects include:
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Breast Cancer Quiz: Symptoms & Signs
This Breast Cancer Quiz features signs, symptoms, facts, causes, common forms, terms, risk factors, statistics, and more. ...
Psoriasis Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take the mystery out of psoriasis. Take the Psoriasis Quiz and see what you know about the types, symptoms, treatments and more....
Ulcerative Colitis Quiz: Diet, Symptoms & Treatment
What is ulcerative colitis and what risks are associated with suffering over the long term? Take this Ulcerative Colitis Quiz to...
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Multiple Sclerosis is a debilitating neurological condition. Take the MS Quiz to test your knowledge of the causes, symptoms,...
Crohn's Disease Quiz
What causes Crohn's disease? What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease? How is Crohn's treated? Take this quiz to get the facts...
Leukemia Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
What do you know about leukemia? Did you know there are different types? What are the symptoms? Take the Leukemia Quiz and test...
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Quiz: Test Your SLE IQ
This Lupus Quiz covers causes, signs, symptoms, facts, and treatments for this inflammatory autoimmune disease....
Rheumatoid Arthritis Quiz: What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
How is rheumatoid arthritis different from other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and gout? Take the Rheumatoid...
Heart Disease Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take our Heart Disease Quiz to get answers and facts about high cholesterol, atherosclerosis prevention, and the causes,...
Picture of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 1
A chronic inflammatory condition caused by an autoimmune disease. See a picture of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and learn...
Picture of Uterine Cancer
A malignant tumor of the uterus (womb), which occurs most often in women between the ages of 55 and 70. Abnormal bleeding after...
Picture of Psoriasis 1
A reddish, scaly rash often located over the surfaces of the elbows, knees, scalp, and around or in the ears, navel, genitals or...
Picture of Psoriasis 2
More than one-quarter of all individuals with psoriasis develop their disease during childhood or adolescence. See a picture of...
Picture of Psoriasis 3
This figure shows the erythema, scaling, and thickening of portions of the thumb and soles that are very common in both children...
Picture of Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be single or multiple and may range from mild to severe in intensity and short to long in...
Picture of Lupus
A chronic inflammatory condition caused by an autoimmune disease. See a picture of Lupus Rash and learn more about the health...
Picture of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 2
Erythematous, edematous plaques appear in a "butterfly" distribution on the face. See a picture of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus...
Picture of Breast Anatomy
The breast refers to the front of the chest or, more specifically, to the mammary gland. See a picture of Breast Anatomy and...
Picture of Acute Systemic Lupus
Acute systemic lupus erythematosus. See a picture of Acute Systemic Lupus and learn more about the health topic....
Picture of Heart
The muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. See a picture of the Heart and learn more...
Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes
What is heart disease (coronary artery disease)? Learn about the causes of heart disease. Symptoms of heart disease include chest...
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms & Treatment
What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Learn about juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Discover rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms,...
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Exercises Slideshow: Joint-Friendly Fitness Routines
Regular exercise boosts fitness and helps reverse joint stiffness for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our experts offer...
Types of Psoriasis: Medical Pictures and Treatments
Learn about the common skin condition psoriasis. Explore about the different types of psoriasis such as vulgaris (plaque...
Heart-Healthy Diet: 25 Foods to Protect Your Cardiovascular System
See 25 foods loaded with heart-healthy nutrients that help protect your cardiovascular system. Plus, find easy meal/recipes and...
Cancer-Fighting Foods in Pictures: Resveratrol, Green Tea, and More
Experts have praised certain foods for their ability to reduce cancer risks. Learn which foods and eating strategies may help...
Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Learn about breast cancer causes, symptoms, tests, recovery, and prevention. Discover the types of treatments such as surgery and...
The Benefits of Omega 3 Foods on Heart Health
What are the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids? Learn how Omega 3 rich foods like fish oil, salmon, walnuts, & more can boost brain...
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms and Treatment
Learn about multiple sclerosis (MS) causes, symptoms, and treatment for this autoimmune disease that attacks the nerves of the...
Prostate Cancer Symptoms, PSA Test, Treatments
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Learn the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, along with causes and...
Lupus Symptoms, Rash, and Treatment
What is Lupus? Learn about lupus symptoms like butterfly rash, joint pain and fatigue. Find causes, diagnosis, and treatments for...
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Ulcerative Colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease and is slightly different than Crohn's disease. Your diet can impact...
Tips for Healthy Joints: Exercise, Nutrition, & More in Pictures
Dealing with joint pain and arthritis? Learn why weight matters--and why NOT to stretch before exercise. See these solutions for...
Psoriasis Types, Images, Treatments
What is psoriasis? Explore psoriasis treatment options such as topical ointments, phototherapy, natural remedies and more. Learn...
Heart Health Pictures: How to Lower Triglycerides
Learn 14 ways to lower triglycerides. Learn to keep your heart healthy and triglyceride levels in check with these diet,...
Crohn's Disease Causes, Symptoms, Diet
What is Crohn's disease? Get more information on this digestive disorder and how Crohn's can affect your diet. Learn more about...
Food Swaps for Meals and Snacks for Heart Health in Pictures
Explore 10 food swaps for heart-wise dining. Learn what food to buy and how to cook in order to make a big difference for your...
Psoriasis: Top 10 Causes, Triggers and Treatments
Psoriasis triggers a red, scaly rash of plaques on the skin typically affecting the elbows, knees, and scalp. Treatment involves...
Home Remedies for Psoriasis
Discover home remedies for psoriasis and help heal irritated skin....
What You Should Know About Multiple Sclerosis
Learn about celebrities, such as Montel Williams and Jack Osbourne, who are living with multiple sclerosis....
Famous Faces With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Learn more about the famous faces of rheumatoid arthritis such as Lucille Ball, Glenn Frey, and more....
10 Things Young Women Should Know About Breast Cancer
Is breast cancer genetic? Should I get tested for the BRCA gene? What every young women should know about breast cancer. Discover...
Related Disease Conditions
Pain Management and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Second Source article from WebMD...
Early Prostate Cancer
Second Source article from Government...
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis)
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or JRA) annually affects one child in every thousand. There are six...
Breast cancer is an invasive tumor that develops in the mammary gland. Breast cancer is detected via mammograms, breast...
Crohn's Disease (Symptoms, Causes, Diet, Treatment, Life Expectancy)
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect...
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells in which the growth and development of the blood cells are abnormal. Strictly...
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, a vital part of the body's immune system. Symptoms and signs include...
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Life Expectancy
Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage...
Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that develops in plasma cells, the white blood cells that make antibodies. Symptoms include...
Myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease. Varying degrees of weakness of the voluntary muscles of the body...
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer. Risk factors include age, family history, ethnicity, and...
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales....
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints,...
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease....
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the colon. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding....
Though uterine cancer's cause is unknown, there are many factors that will put a woman at risk, including being over age 50,...
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness...
Breast Cancer Prevention
Lifestyle changes, a healthy antioxidant-rich diet, exercise, and weight reduction can help reduce a woman's risk of developing...
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Intestinal Problems of IBD)
The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The intestinal complications of...
Cancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and...
Breast Cancer During Pregnancy
Breast cancer occurs in about 1 in every 1,000 pregnant women. Treatment of breast cancer during pregnancy involves surgery, but...
Breast Cancer Recurrence
Breast cancer most often recurs within the first three to five years after the initial treatment. Changes in the look, feel, or...
Alternative Treatment for MS (CAM for MS)
The term alternative therapy, in general, is used to describe any medical treatment or intervention that has not been...
Breast Cancer Clinical Trials
Breast cancer clinical trials are research programs designed to evaluate new medical treatments, drugs, or devices for the...
Breast Cancer in Young Women
About 5% of cases of breast cancer occur in women under the age of 40 years old. Some risk factors for breast cancer in young...
Male Breast Cancer
Male breast cancer accounts for 1% of all breast cancers, and most cases are found in men between the ages of 60 and 70. A man's...
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to...
Colitis (Symptoms, Types, and Treatments)
Colitis refers to inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. Symptoms of the inflammation of the colon lining include...
Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve, the structure that connects the eye to the brain. The precise cause of optic...
Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children. Symptoms and signs include fever, easy...
Ulcerative Colitis Diet
An ulcerative colitis diet plan can help a person with the disease avoid foods and drinks that trigger flares. There also are...
16 Early Symptoms and Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Early RA symptoms and signs vary differently from person to person. The most common body parts that are initially affected by RA...
Heart Disease in Women
Heart disease in women has somewhat different symptoms, risk factors, and treatment compared to heart disease in men. Many women...
Heart Disease Treatment in Women
Heart disease treatment in women should take into account female-specific guidelines that were developed by the American Heart...
Multiple Sclerosis Early Symptoms and Signs (Early, Body Areas Affected)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms vary from person to person, and can last for days to months without periods of remission....
Is Psoriasis Contagious?
Psoriasis is an incurable skin disease that causes reddish patches of skin topped with a thick layer of dry silvery scales....
Is Lupus Contagious?
Systemic lupus erythematosus in an inflammatory disease. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, fever, and rash. Though lupus is...
Is Crohn's Disease Contagious?
Crohn's disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and is characterized by symptoms and signs that...
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- infliximab, Remicade
- Herceptin (trastuzumab)
- rituximab (Rituxan)
- adalimumab, Humira
- alefacept, Amevive
- omalizumab, Xolair
- efalizumab, Raptiva
- natalizumab - injection, Tysabri
- palivizumab - injection, Synagis
- abciximab - injection, Reopro
- basiliximab - injection, Simulect
- alemtuzumab (Campath)
- ustekinumab, Stelara
- golimumab (Simponi, Simponi Aria)
- certolizumab, Cimzia
- tocilizumab, Actemra
- belimumab, Benlysta
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
FDA approved prescribing information for monoclonal antibodies.
Geskin LJ. "Monoclonal Antibodies." Dermatol Clin. 2015 Oct;33 (4):777-86.