Let’s start our series Biologics A – Z very appropriately with A for antibodies. Antibodies, or more specifically immunoglobulins based on the sturdy mouse and human immunoglobulins of the IgG subclass, are a major biologics workhorse. They have found wide application as humanized mouse monoclonals (think Herceptin, Humira, Avastin, Rituxan and many others) and they are also used as antibody-drug conjugates and antibody fragments (think Lucentis for macular degeneration). Promising future applications include antibody-(cytokine) fusion proteins as therapeutics and antibody conjugates for imaging.
Did you know that work on antibodies has led to at least 3 Nobel Prizes? The 1972 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine was awarded to Gerald Edelman and Rodney Porter for solving the structure of the IgG molecule; the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physiology to Nils Jerne, Georges Köhler and César Milstein for theoretical and laboratory work that led to the development monoclonal antibodies, and the 1987 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Susumu Tonegawa for his discovery of the genetic principle for generation of antibody diversity. Check out this very cute video explaining the structure and function of (monoclonal) antibodies.