Introduction to antibodies

What are antibodies?

Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins which play a pivotal role in our immunity against bacterial and viral infections (also known as pathogens). As we develop immunity, our bodies generate antibodies that specifically bind to particular structures called antigens present on these pathogens. Once bound, the antibodies attract other parts of the immune system to eliminate the pathogen. Certain antigens can also be identified on diseased human cells and therefore antibodies may also be used to treat other human diseases such as cancer or inflammation. Antibody production in the laboratory under controlled conditions became possible in 1975 with the development of the hybridoma technology – a major breakthrough which provided a way of producing mouse antibodies indefinitely. The application of these mouse antibodies as human therapeutics however, was limited. Today, a number of human antibody platforms are available, which are optimally suited for the discovery and development of effective fully human antibody therapeutics for a wide variety of diseases.

Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies that all have identical specificity: they all recognize the same part of a target molecule. They are produced from a single antibody-producing cell and are used in many therapeutic applications.

Antibodies Are Changing Medicine

Our immune system usually makes antibodies only to antigens on foreign, infectious agents, and not to antigens on our own cells. Fortunately, hybridoma and recombinant DNA technologies have allowed the generation of human antibodies against virtually any target molecule on human cells and these can be employed as cancer therapeutics.

With their unique capabilities of high specificity and engagement of the body’s own immune system to combat disease, antibodies have added an entirely new angle to many therapeutic areas. Technological advances and increased understanding of the mechanisms of action of antibodies are leading to the development of next generation antibody therapeutics which are more effective, have improved safety and broader application.

Therapeutic antibody products are currently on the market for a variety of indications, including cancer, autoimmune disease and transplant rejection. The market for therapeutic antibodies is a fast growing area within the healthcare industry.

Genmab Antibody Format Portfolio

Genmab develops three main types of antibody products: HuMAb® antibodies (unmodified, ‘naked’ antibodies) developed using the UltiMAb platform, bispecific antibodies (DuoBody® molecules), enhanced antibodies (HexaBody® molecules) and antibody drug conjugates (ADC).

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