Monoclonal antibodies (Mabs), produced in the laboratory, are derived from the antibodies that the human body produces in the natural course to fight intruders that threaten health. The discovery of these antibodies have radically transformed our understanding of how diseases progress, and how they can be more quickly, accurately, and cheaply diagnosed, and thus substantially expanded the horizons of treatment for more than 50 major ailments. The importance of Mabs can be estimated from the fact that today a majority of the most commercially-successful drugs are Mab-derived, and Mab-drugs are projected to clock sales of US$125 billion annually by 2020.
Mabs in Cancer Treatment
Cancer is unarguably one of the fields where monoclonal antibodies have had the strongest impact. The biggest advantage of Mabs is that they are able to avoid the healthy cells while specifically targeting the cancer cells. This translates to the patient experiencing fewer side effects than conventional radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Further, Mabs play a critical role in immunotherapy, where the body’s own immune system is used to fight cancer.
Mabs in Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders
In addition to bringing about radical changes in cancer treatment, Mabs have also been particularly effective in the treatment of autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. More significantly, they have been responsible for a shift from the mere symptomatic relief to the actual targeting of the cause of the disorder. Notably, major success has been achieved in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Read more about the techniques of immunoprecipitation by which Mabs are deposited on the target cells.
Mabs is increasingly being employed to treat a number of other diseases like asthma, macular degeneration due to age, multiple sclerosis, a deadly neurological disease, and the bane of the elderly, osteoporosis. Scientists are trying to find effective ways of employing Mabs to treat CNS disorders like Alzheimer’s, a much-feared disease that progressively degenerates the brain, diabetes, and migraine.
Mabs in Diagnostics and Public Health
The advancement in Mabs has enabled significant changes to be made in medical diagnostics. With its help, many diseases that were earlier impossible to be identified until they progressed to an advanced stage can now be detected far earlier. Mabs is also being extensively used in public health in governmental efforts in blood screening for AIDS and hepatitis B, and other infectious diseases that can put entire populations at risk. Today they are playing important roles in areas as diverse as detecting diseases spread by biological weapons and OTC diagnostic products for testing pregnancy, ovulation, menopause, and even indications of heart attacks. Tissue typing and organ transplants are also areas where Mabs are playing vital roles.
Despite the immense excitement in the scientific and medical communities about the potential of Mabs to radically transform the way medicine is practiced, there is hardly any awareness in general society about this breakthrough medical development. However, despite it being one of the best-kept scientific secrets, there is absolutely no doubt that Mabs will play an ever-increasing role in disease prevention, diagnostic, and treatment.