(See also Overview of the Immune System.)
Immunotherapy is the use of drugs that mimic components of the immune system. Use of these drugs to fight disease is rapidly evolving.
Several types (classes) of immunotherapeutic drugs have been developed. One of the most common classes is monoclonal antibodies.
Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are antibodies that are produced in a laboratory from living cells that have been altered to produce the desired antibody. When injected into a person's bloodstream, they act like the antibodies produced in the human body. Monoclonal antibodies are usually designed to attack cancer cells or the substances that cause inflammation in disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Monoclonal antibodies are used to do the following:
Prevent rejection of organ transplants
Because monoclonal antibodies are often used to suppress the immune system, they can have significant side effects such as an increased risk of infection.