Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are proving to be an effective form of treatment against several diseases, like cancer and COVID-19. These imitate the function of antibodies naturally present in one’s body, only with greater resistance power. This is why these antibodies serve as remedies to beat deadly viruses like SARS-CoV-2.

A thorough idea of this topic is essential to crack IAS Exam. Keep reading to know about these antibodies in detail and prepare better.

Latest News Regarding Monoclonal Antibodies in India

  • International Aids Vaccine Initiative and the Serum Institute of India have announced an agreement with Merck to develop monoclonal antibodies for the Sars-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19).
  • According to a recent publication in the Times of India, the Omicron variant is entirely unresponsive to the primary monoclonal antibody treatments available. It has been deemed ineffective.
  • BCCI President Sourav Ganguly also received monoclonal antibody treatment after testing positive for COVID-19.

Candidates can refer to the UPSC Syllabus related links given below:

Difference between COVID-19 vs SARS What is a Virus?
List of Covid 19 Variants Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG)
Mission COVID Suraksha Coronavirus & Digital Solutions: RSTV- Big Picture

What are Monoclonal Antibodies?

Monoclonal antibodies are artificially engineered in laboratories by scientists as a form of medication. This is because they are characterised by their ability to help a human body combat viral infections better. These can target only one specific type of antigen.

The short-form for them is Moabs or Mabs. Here is how it works.

The body responds by producing antibodies to counteract the virus or antigens, whenever a person falls ill. These antibodies are specific to a particular antigen. Therefore, scientists can replicate these antibodies and help in the treatment of a disease.

So far, healthcare professionals have used monoclonal antibodies in the treatment of cancer.

Examples of Monoclonal Antibodies

There are four ways in which scientists prepare monoclonal antibodies. They are:

  • Murine: Murine monoclonal antibodies consist of mouse proteins, and any treatment with these ends with the suffix -omab.
  • Human: These are made purely from human beings, and any treatment with these ends with the suffix -umab.
  • Humanised: Humanised monoclonal antibodies are made of parts of mouse proteins attached to human proteins. Any treatment with these ends with -zumab.
  • Chimeric: These are also a combination of part mouse and part human. The treatment ends with -umab.

Here are some FDA approved monoclonal antibodies.

  • Ustekinumab (Stelara)
  • Trastuzumab (Herceptin)
  • Tocilizumab (Actemra)
  • Secukinumab (Cosentyx)
  • Rituximab (Rituxan)
  • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)
  • Panitumumab (Vectibix)
  • Palivizumab (Synagis)
  • Omalizumab (Xolair)
  • Olaratumab (Lartruvo)
  • Nivolumab (Opdivo)
  • Natalizumab (Tysabri)
  • Ixekizumab (Taltz)
  • Ipilimumab (Yervoy)
  • Inflectra (Remicade)
  • Golimumab (Simponi, Simponi Aria)
  • Efalizumab (Raptiva)
  • Denosumab (Prolia, Xgeva)
  • Daclizumab (Zenapax, Zinbryta)
  • Cetuximab (Erbitux)
  • Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)
  • Canakinumab (Ilaris)
  • Bezlotoxumab (Zinplava)
  • Belimumab (Benlysta)
  • Basiliximab (Simulect)
  • Alemtuzumab (Campath)
  • Alefacept (Amevive)
  • Adalimumab (Humira, Amjevita)
  • Abciximab (Reopro)
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Topic-Wise GS 3 Questions for UPSC Mains UPSC Mains GS 3 Strategy, Structure & Syllabus

Possible Side-effects of Monoclonal Antibodies

Since monoclonal antibodies are themselves proteins, they can cause an allergic reaction. Some of the possible side-effects of these antibodies are:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rashes

Uses of Monoclonal Antibodies

Currently, these are the uses of monoclonal antibodies. Healthcare professionals use them in the treatment of the following:

  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Transplant rejection
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment for COVID-19

In 2020, the US Government’s Food and Drug Administration had approved emergency authorisation to use monoclonal antibodies as a treatment option for COVID-19.

When the monoclonal antibody enters the bloodstream, it attaches to the spike of the COVID-19 virus, and prevents it from entering other cells. Therefore, the rate of reproduction is significantly slowed down.

Some of the names of the drugs that are used are sotrovimab and a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab.

Monoclonal antibody treatment is quite effective for COVID-19. It helps to reduce hospital and emergency department visits.

There are only two types of monoclonal antibodies that are effective against the Omicron variant, and these are sotrovimab and DXP-604.

From the perspective of the UPSC Exam, monoclonal antibodies constitute a very pertinent topic as it is connected with COVID-19. Along those lines, here are other essential queries you can browse through.

Other UPSC Related Links
UPSC Syllabus IAS Salary
IAS Study Material UPSC Eligibility Criteria
IAS Question and Answers for 2023 UPSC FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


How effective are monoclonal antibodies against COVID-19?

The treatment with antibodies reduces the risk of severe COVID-19 by 85%.


What are the two monoclonal antibody treatments available in India?

Casirivimab and Imdevimab are the two monoclonal antibodies available in India, developed by Roche.


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