Q. What is the news?
An experimental monoclonal antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV2,
has been found to be a life-saving treatment for some of the most severely affected Covid-19 patients, results of a clinical trial in the UK have shown.
Q. What are Monoclonal antibodies?
- However, Such therapies are expensive because they are difficult to make and take a lot of time.
They are artificially created antibodies
that aim to aid the body’s natural immune system.
They target a specific antigen — a protein from the pathogen that induces immune response.
Q. How are they created?
Monoclonal antibodies can be created in the lab by exposing white blood cells to a particular antigen.
To increase the quantity of antibodies produced,
a single white blood cell is cloned, which in turn is used to create identical copies of the antibodies.
Q. What is the need for monoclonal antibodies?
- In the case of Covid-19, scientists usually work with the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which facilitates the entry of the virus into the host cell.
In a healthy body,
the immune system is able to create antibodies — tiny Y-shaped proteins in our blood that recognise microbial enemies and bind to them, signalling the immune system to then launch an attack on the pathogen.
However, for people whose immune systems are unable to make sufficient amounts of these antibodies,
scientists provide a helping hand- using monoclonal antibodies.
Q. What is the background of it?
The idea of delivering antibodies to treat a disease dates as far back as the 1900s, when Nobel-prize winning German immunologist Paul Ehrlich
proposed the idea of a ‘Zauberkugel‘
(magic bullet), a compound which selectively targets a pathogen.
Q. What are its some of applications?
- From then, it took eight decades of research to finally arrive at Muromonab-CD3, the world’s first monoclonal antibody to be approved for clinical use in humans.
- Muromonab-CD3 is an immunosuppressant drug given to reduce acute rejection in patients with organ transplants.
Monoclonal antibodies are now relatively common. They are used in treating Ebola, HIV, psoriasis etc.