Fighting Diseases with Antibodies

By , April 11, 2012 6:25 am

Antibodies play a big role when it comes to fight pestilent invaders that threaten our health. An antibody is a protein that is produced by our immune system in order to identify and neutralize foreign substances, so-called antigens. There are millions of different antibodies and they often vary only slightly but this variation is necessary to bind different types of antigens. Thanks to the so-called memory cells our body is able to recognize antigens even years after their first apparition. In case the invader reappears these cells can respond faster by creating the same type of antibody that helped us fight the virus the first time. This is exactly how vaccines work: a weakened form of the invading substance is injected to the body in order to stimulate the production of antibodies. Researchers are thus always looking for the right type of antibody to fight a certain disease. Antigens or antibodies can be detected and measured with ELISA kits.

Antibodies and Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis or type I diabetes are based on the problem that the body can not differentiate between harmful substances and healthy body tissue. It therefore destroys these body tissues and organs: skin, muscles, joints etc. can be affected by this kind of disease. The reasons for autoimmune disorders are mostly unknown, researchers still try to figure out what causes them.
Autoantibody tests can help diagnose an autoimmune disease. The treatment depends on the type of disorder, but unfortunately many of them are fatal. Allergies can also be classified as autoimmune disorders since they let the body respond in a negative way to a normally harmless substance. Many allergies are treated with so-called immunotherapy: over a long period of time the allergen is injected in gradually larger doses in order to stop the body’s hypersensitivity to the allergen.

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