Antibodies are being created to fight disease in new ways

Targeting cancers and viruses, better knowledge of the human immune system is leading to new medicines.

By Daniel M. Davis, WIRED

Around halfway through 2022, we will have witnessed a number of significant breakthroughs in ways in which we can engineer the body’s immune system to fight disease. The pandemic has already led to the development of new types of vaccine, such as those based on mRNA, and their use will be expanded next year to protect us against other pathogens. But we will also see other ways of harnessing the immune system to fight disease.

One of these will be new types of antibody-based medicine. Antibodies are produced by the body in response to infection and we have worked out ways of using artificially manufactured antibodies to mark cancer cells for destruction. We can also boost the body’s immune cells’ reactivity against cancer or dampen the immune activity that causes problems in rheumatoid arthritis. Indeed, antibodies are already the basis of seven out of ten of the world’s most profitable medicines.

These antibodies are used in a way which exploits their natural ability to lock onto specific targets. The design of antibodies themselves has been left relatively untouched. In 2022, all that will change. Read more …