Biotechnology Molecular Biology Pharmacokinetics

Monoclonal Antibodies

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A monoclonal antibody (mAb or moAb) is an antibody made by cloning a unique white blood cell or a type of protein made in the laboratory that can bind to substances in the body, including cancer cells. There are many kinds of monoclonal antibodies. A monoclonal antibody is made so that it binds to only one substance. Monoclonal antibodies are being used to treat some types of cancer. They can be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive substances directly to cancer cells.

Researchers can design antibodies that specifically target a specific antigen, such as one found on cancer cells. They can then make many copies of that antibody in the lab. These are known as monoclonal antibodies (mAbs or Moabs).

Monoclonal antibodies are used to treat many diseases, including some types of cancer. To make a monoclonal antibody, researchers first have to identify the right antigen to attack. Finding the right antigens for cancer cells is not always easy, and so far mAbs have proven to be more useful against some cancers than others.

Monoclonal antibodies can have monovalent affinity, binding only to the same epitope. In contrast, polyclonal antibodies bind to multiple epitopes and are usually made by several different antibody secreting plasma cell lineages. Bi-specific monoclonal antibodies can also be engineered, by increasing the therapeutic targets of one single monoclonal antibody to two epitopes.

Many monoclonal antibody technologies have been developed recently such as; 

  • phage display
  • single B cell culture
  • single cell amplification from various B cell populations
  • single plasma cell interrogation 

There are 4 different ways they can be made and are named based on what they are made of.

  • Murine: These are made from mouse proteins and the names of the treatments end in -omab.
  • Chimeric: These proteins are a combination of part mouse and part human and the names of the treatments end in -ximab.
  • Humanized: These are made from small parts of mouse proteins attached to human proteins and the names of the treatments end in -zumab
  • Human: These are fully human proteins and the names of the treatments end in -umab.

Possible side effects can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rashes

A list of some FDA-approved monoclonal antibody drugs is enlisted here;

  • abciximab 
  • adalimumab 
  • alefacept 
  • alemtuzumab 
  • basiliximab 
  • belimumab 
  • bezlotoxumab 
  • canakinumab 
  • certolizumab pegol 
  • cetuximab 
  • daclizumab 
  • denosumab 
  • efalizumab 
  • golimumab 
  • inflectra 
  • ipilimumab 
  • ixekizumab 
  • natalizumab 
  • nivolumab 
  • olaratumab 
  • omalizumab 
  • palivizumab 
  • panitumumab 
  • pembrolizumab 
  • rituximab 
  • tocilizumab 
  • trastuzumab 
  • secukinumab 
  • ustekinumab 

Monoclonal antibodies are designed to function in different ways. A particular drug may actually function by more than one means. The role of the drug in helping the immune system may include the following:

  • Flagging cancer cells. 
  • Triggering cell-membrane destruction
  • Blocking cell growth
  • Preventing blood vessel growth
  • Blocking immune system inhibitors
  • Directly attacking cancer cells
  • Delivering radiation treatment 
  • Delivering chemotherapy
  • Binding cancer and immune cells

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