Business and Management

What are Monoclonal Antibodies?

Monoclonal antibodies are a class of drugs that have changed the way we prevent and treat diseases, from cancer and diseases of the immune system to childhood viral infections. They are not chemical compounds, as are most drugs.

They are based on natural IDS antibodies which are proteins that the body produces to protect itself from disease but are made in the lab and mass-produced in factories. This is why they are sometimes called 'designer antibodies', they are designed for the disease they treat.

The first monoclonal antibody product was licensed more than 30 years ago. Since then, millions of people have benefited from more than 100 such treatments. Of these, about 50 were brought to market in the last six years alone.

It is one of the fastest-growing areas in biomedical research, and an increasingly important segment of the pharmaceutical market – last year, seven of the top 10 best-selling drugs were monoclonal antibodies.

Antibodies are proteins produced by our immune system and are one of the main ways the body protects itself from diseases.

They work by binding to their specific targets – for example, viruses, bacteria, or cancer cells – and rendering them harmless. They block the action of the target, or they mark it as foreign so that other parts of our immune system can ward off the 'invaders'. Monoclonal antibodies also work in the same way.

 

Doug Parks