Therapeutic application of antibodies | DO | 07 07 2022 | 16:05

Radio Doctor – Medicine and Health

The term antibody is also known to the general public at the latest since the corona pandemic. Laboratory blood determination shows whether you have previously been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus or whether you have responded well to vaccination. And for some it was almost a must to know the current title.
Indeed, without these proteins, our organism would be in a poor immunological state and would be defenseless against attacks by viruses or bacteria. Antibodies are part of the specific immune system and are produced, for example in the context of an acute infection, by specialized cells, some B lymphocytes or plasma cells. Therefore, it is typical for an infection to swell the lymph nodes, where the production of these proteins also takes place. Such immunoglobulins, which are often schematically represented as a Y, fit like a key into the lock of an antigen located on the surface of an alleged intruder. Presumably, because the immune system also attacks harmless substances from the environment (allergy) or even endogenous structures (autoimmune disease) in the event of a disturbance.
In recent years, antibodies have also made their way into medicine and have revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of numerous diseases.
With the possibility of generating so-called genetically modified, identical monoclonal antibodies, a series of keys can also be produced here which lock appropriately onto a desired target structure. This is a great advantage of these substances, which can be recognized by the name suffix -mab (monoclonal antibody). Because unlike other drugs, which have a watering-can effect on the whole organism, it is possible to act right here. In the case of inflammatory diseases, for example, only certain messenger substances can be blocked instead of shutting down the entire immune system with cortisone.
Cancer cells can also be destroyed with great precision without destroying healthy cells, as is the case with conventional chemotherapy. Women with HER2-positive breast cancer, which previously had a very poor prognosis, can now be helped with monoclonal antibodies that bind to this surface receptor. This means that the chance of recovery is even higher than with other tumor variants. “Here the relationship has actually reversed and we see the potential of this targeted form of therapy,” explains clinical pharmacologist Markus Zeitlinger.
Genetically modified antibodies are also used in infectiousness, for example for the treatment of COVID-19 in high-risk patients or severe cases. Or against clostridial bacteria in case of recurrent intestinal infections. These biologics are also used to treat nasal polyps in chronic sinusitis.
The only drawback: since these are proteins, antibodies have to be injected. Furthermore, the costs for such treatments are relatively horrendous. In this country, treatments are taken over by health insurance companies if there is a corresponding indication. Not least from the point of view that basically, by avoiding consequential damage and the progression of the disease, the health system saves a lot of expenses. Indeed, in the case of Crohn’s disease, psoriasis or rheumatic polyarthritis, for example, the use of monoclonal antibodies cannot cure the disease, but its activity can be reduced to a tolerable level for those affected.
Increasingly, so-called biosimilars are also coming onto the market which, like generics, are significantly cheaper than the original drugs and will make therapy more affordable in the future.
Dr Ronny Tekal speaks to his guests in the current issue of Radiodoktor about the many possible uses of biologics and the justified or exaggerated hopes they have in antibody therapy.



Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hilbe
Specialist in hematology and oncology
Head of the 1st medical ward – oncology and hematology center with outpatient and palliative ward
President of the Austrian Society of Hematology and Medical Oncology (OeGHO)
Ottakring Clinic
Montleartstra├če 37
A-1160 Vienna
Tel: +43/1/49150 2103
First page

Guests on the phone: Christina Duftner
Internal medicine specialist
General Director of the Austrian Society of Rheumatology
University Clinic of Internal Medicine VI
Innsbruck Medical University
Anichstra├če 35
A-6020 Innsbruck
Tel: +43/50 504 23251
First page

partner Prof. Priv.-Doz. Dr Markus Zeitlinger
Internal medicine and clinical pharmacology specialist
Director of the University Clinic of Clinical Pharmacology
Waehringen 18-20 belt
A-1090 Vienna
T: +43/1/40400 29810
First page


Austrian Society of Rheumatology

Austrian Society of Medical Hematology and Oncology

Antibody Information (Open-Science, 2021)

Antibody Therapy in Cancer (German Cancer Research Center, 2017)

New COVID-19 drugs with monoclonal antibodies (Austrian Ministry of Health, 2021)

This is how corona therapy with monoclonal antibodies works (MDR Knowledge, 2021)

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Baffling Antibodies (German League for Rheumatism 2021)

Biological therapy – costs and side effects (minimum, 2020)

Nasal polyps: can biologics help? (My Allergy Portal, 2021)


Melvin Little
Antibodies in the fight against cancer: foundations, principles and possible applications
Springer, 2015

Georg Weidinger
The miraculous immune system: how it works and what it strengthens
Publisher OGTCM 2021


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