Antibodies

By Robert S. Dinsmoor

Proteins made by the B cells of the immune system, which recognize and neutralize foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. An antibody identifies a specific part of the target, known as an antigen, and binds to it so as to neutralize it.

In a relatively recent form of treatment, monoclonal antibodies (highly specific antibodies made in the laboratory) are used to bind specifically to target cells or proteins. Monoclonal antibody therapy can be used to destroy malignant tumor cells and block their growth. The monoclonal antibodies infliximab (brand name Remicade), adalimumab (Humira), golimumab (Simponi), and certolizumab (Cimzia) are used to treat autoimmune diseases such as Crohn disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis by inhibiting the action of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a cytokine (chemical messenger) that promotes inflammation. Tociluzimab (Actemra) inhibits another pro-inflammatory cytokine called interleukin-6 (or IL-6). Rituximab (Rituxan) is a monoclonal antibody that temporariy decreases the number of B cells, the white blood cells that manufacture antibodies.

Last Reviewed On November 19, 2014

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Robert S. Dinsmoor is a medical writer and editor based in Massachusetts.

Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

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