Monoclonal Antibodies are antibodies that are targeted toward a specific disease-causing agent.
An antibody is a protein produced by the body's immune system in response to the presence of foreign substances in the body called antigens. Antigens include harmful substances and disease-causing agents like bacteria and viruses.
Monoclonal Antibodies are particularly important because of their role in treating infection by the virus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
Key Facts About Monoclonal Antibodies
- Monoclonal Antibodies are usually produced in a laboratory (although the body does produce them in certain immune responses).
- These lab-cloned antibodies are then used in treatments to mimic the action of the body's natural antibodies.
- Like natural antibodies, Monoclonal Antibodies identify infectious agents and bind to them in order to stop them from infecting cells.
- They are highly specific in their action, and so they can be used to target a specific pathogen.
- While the body naturally produces antibodies as a part of its immune response to an infection, it may not be able to produce antibodies or sufficient antibodies to combat a new virus. Due to this, treatment through Monoclonal Antibodies can be useful to bolster the body's immune response.
Significance of Monoclonal Antibodies in Treating COVID-19
Monoclonal Antibodies are of particular significance because of their use in treating COVID-19. The antibody "cocktail" has become a widespread mode of treatment for COVID-19:
- Roche and Regeneron developed the antibody cocktail REGN-COV2 as a treatment for persons infected by the COVID virus: SARS-CoV-2.
- The antibody cocktail contains a combination of two Monoclonal Antibodies: Casirivimab and Imdevimab.
- In May 2021, as India was facing a devastating second wave of COVID-19, the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) of India granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) for introducing the antibody cocktail in India.
- The antibody cocktail was distributed and marketed in India by Cipla Limited.
- The cocktail of Monoclonal Antibodies is specifically targeted at the "spike" protein of the virus to prevent the virus from entering cells and replicating.
- It is considered to be an effective treatment for high-risk patients with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.
- According to Cipla, it has the potential to reduce the chance of hospitalisation by 70 per cent in such patients by preventing the patients' condition from worsening.
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Monoclonal Antibodies Effects
The antibody cocktail treatment is not a substitute for the COVID-19 vaccine as the vaccine helps the body develop immunity to the virus.
While the vaccine triggers the body's natural immune response, this can take weeks to develop enough antibodies against a virus. Therefore if a person is suffering from COVID-19, Monoclonal Antibodies can give the body the antibodies it needs to resist the virus and prevent more severe symptoms.
If administered in the early stages of COVID symptoms, Monoclonal Antibodies can be an effective way to prevent a patient's condition from worsening.
However, the emergence of new variants of the COVID virus, such as Omicron, poses a challenge to this treatment as there are very few Monoclonal Antibodies that are proving to be effective against the new strains.
FAQs on Monoclonal Antibodies
Q.1. What are Monoclonal Antibodies?
Monoclonal Antibodies are produced from a single original antibody, usually synthesized in a laboratory.
Q.2. Why are Monoclonal Antibodies useful?
Monoclonal Antibodies are useful because they have high specificity, so they are used to combat a targeted pathogen.
Q.3. What is the treatment for the Covid-19 virus that uses Monoclonal Antibodies?
The “antibody cocktail called REGN-COV2 contains a combination of two Monoclonal Antibodies - Casirivimab and Imdevimab - and is being used to treat patients with the Covid-19 virus.
Q.4. When did the CDSCO give emergency use authorization (EUA) to use Monoclonal Antibodies as a treatment in India?
The CDSCO gave emergency use authorization to use Monoclonal Antibodies as a treatment in India in May 2021, when India was suffering from a devastating second wave of Covid-19.
Q.5. In what cases are Monoclonal Antibodies recommended as a treatment?
Monoclonal Antibodies are recommended in the case of high-risk patients who have mild to moderate symptoms of Covid-19 to prevent their condition from worsening to more severe symptoms.