Antibodies, the small proteins which form a critical part of our immune response to disease, are the unsung heroes of much biomedical research.
And for decades, the production of antibodies to fight viruses and understand them, such as Covid-19 and many common infectious diseases, has relied on the use of animals. To know more about antibodies, you can also visit https://www.bosterbio.com/featured-products.
Debate has started about how quickly the biomedical sector will be able to move away from the use of animals to a greater reliance on cruelty-free methods.
How antibodies work
Antibody proteins are naturally produced by humans and animals after exposure to foreign objects, such as viruses, that enter the body. These antibodies are made by immune cells that recognize a small piece of foreign body known as an antigen.
Whenever these immune cells come into contact with an antigen, they can reproduce the specific antibodies needed to fight off the body’s health challenges.
In research, scientists can take advantage of this process and use antibodies to help researchers detect the presence or even concentration of certain proteins to diagnose disease. Antibodies, especially monoclonal antibodies that specifically bind to only a subset of antigens known as epitopes, can also be used for treatment and are effective in arthritis, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.
Antibodies can be produced in two ways. Currently, most of the antibodies used in this study are of animal origin and are referred to as “animal derivatives”.
Animals, most often mice or rabbits, although other animals are used, are injected with small amounts of the foreign antigen of interest, which allows the immune system to produce antibodies in response. They are then taken from the blood or spleen for use in research.