Antibody Therapy

Antibody therapy is a form of immunotherapy that uses antibodies to bind certain cells or proteins. Immunotherapy is the prevention or treatment of a disease with substances that stimulate an immune response in the human body. The objective of antibody therapy is to stimulate a patient’s immune system to attack cells.

Monoclonal antibody drugs are a common form of antibody therapy in cancer treatments. Monoclonal antibodies are produced in a laboratory, engineered to serve as substitute antibodies that restore, enhance, or mimic the immune system’s attack on cancer cells. Monoclonal antibody drugs are designed to function in various ways. Their role in helping the immune system may include:

  • Flagging cancer cells
  • Triggering cell-membrane destruction
  • Blocking cell growth
  • Preventing blood vessel growth
  • Blocking immune system inhibitors
  • Directly attacking cancer cells
  • Delivering radiation treatment
  • Delivering chemotherapy
  • Binding cancer and immune cells

There are also a variety of monoclonal antibodies. Different types of monoclonal antibodies are used in cancer treatment, including:

  • Naked monoclonal antibodies
  • Conjugated monoclonal antibodies
  • Bispecific monoclonal antibodies

Monoclonal antibody drugs are given intravenously or subcutaneously (for example, rituximab or trastuzumab). Since the antibodies themselves are proteins, they may cause a type of allergic reaction, which is common when the drug is first given. Potential side effects of monoclonal antibody drugs include:

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