Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Monoclonal Antibody


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs)

Mains level : Not Much

Central Idea

  • India has reached out to Australia in its efforts to procure monoclonal antibody doses for combating the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala.
  • The monoclonal antibody has successfully passed phase-one trials and has been administered to 14 individuals globally.

Why use it for Nipah?

  • Currently, there is no effective treatment for Nipah virus infection apart from symptom relief.
  • The virus carries a high mortality rate ranging from 40% to 75%, making it a formidable threat.
  • In comparison, even during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the case fatality ratio (CFR) remained at around three percent.

What are Monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs)?

  • Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are a class of therapeutic proteins that have revolutionized medicine and healthcare.
  • They are used in a wide range of applications, from treating diseases to diagnosing conditions and conducting scientific research.

Structure of mAbs

  • Monoclonal antibodies are proteins produced by a single type of immune cell, known as a B cell.
  • They are called “monoclonal” because they are derived from a single, cloned parent cell.
  • These antibodies have a specific Y-shaped structure consisting of two identical heavy chains and two identical light chains.
  • The variable region of the antibody binds to a specific antigen with high precision.

Applications of Monoclonal Antibodies

  • Monoclonal antibodies have a wide range of applications in medicine, science, and diagnostics:
  • MAbs are used to treat various diseases, including cancer, autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases, and more.
  • They are used in diagnostic tests, such as ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), to detect specific molecules like antigens or antibodies.
  • Scientists use mAbs to study and manipulate biological processes. They can be labeled with fluorescent markers for imaging and are crucial tools in cell biology and molecular biology research.
  • Monoclonal antibodies labelled with radioactive isotopes or fluorescent markers can be used for diagnostic imaging techniques like PET (positron emission tomography) scans.
  • They can target specific molecules on cancer cells, minimizing damage to healthy cells during cancer treatment.

Challenges and Advancements

  • Despite their significant benefits, monoclonal antibodies can have limitations, such as high production costs and the potential for immune responses.
  • Advances in technology, such as the development of humanized antibodies (antibodies with human components to reduce immune reactions), have addressed some of these challenges.

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