A monoclonal antibody (mAb) is produced in a laboratory and is an immune protein (antibody) that can bind to specific targets in the body, including certain cancer cells. An mAb is designed to target a specific molecule or substance on the surface of cancerous cells. Monoclonal antibodies can be used alone to treat cancer, or can be combined with other substances to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive agents directly to the cancer cells to which they bind. Drug names that include monoclonal antibodies typically have the phrase “-mab” at the end of the generic drug name
Side effects caused by monoclonal antibodies may include:
- Allergic reactions
- Flu-like fever and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin rashes
- Low blood pressure
Treatment with mAbs is designed to stimulate the patient’s immune system to target components on the cancer cells. This type of therapy can be given alone or combined with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. As mentioned above, monoclonal antibody therapies may cause side effects; however, the effects are typically milder than that of chemotherapy.