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There are many Monoclonal Antibody treatments available either commercially or in clinical trials. And the list is growing rapidly. They are one of the most exciting and promising areas of research. Throughout this site, we will often use the short form MoAbs to mean Monoclonal Antibody. 

As you research treatments you will find many new drugs with have names that end with MAB, and in nearly all cases that means the drug is a Monoclonal AntiBody treatment. Here is a list of some of the most common ones to day. Where appropriate the brand name appears in brackets.

Rituximab (Rituxan)
Ibritumomab Tiuxetan (Zevalin)
Tositumomab (Bexxar)
Alemtuzumab (Campath)
Epratruzumab (Lymphocide)
IDEC-114 (no name yet)

As the name suggests these treatments all use antibodies to fight cancer. The antibodies come from a  variety of sources, but mouse (or Chinese hamster) antibodies are a common source. Moab's called "murine" are made entirely from the mouse antibodies.  When you see that it is a Chimeric antibody that means that a portion of a mouse antibody has been replaced with a human part so that the body will not reject it as quickly. 

Here is the "antibodies for dummies" explanation of how they work. Suppose you take some human lymphoma cells and inject them into a mouse. What do you suppose happens?  Obviously the mouse's immune system mounts an attack against this horribly foreign tissue. It looks for a target (protein) on this tissue that is unique and unlike any other protein the mouse normally has, and then starts producing antibodies against that target. Voila, you now have a new antibody that is specifically directed against the human lymphoma cell. All you have to do now is inject that antibody into a human at it immediately starts attacking the human lymphoma cells. Sometimes the antibody can kill the lymphoma cells directly or sometimes is sends out a signal to the immune system to come and kill the lymphoma cell. Either way you have a highly specific response that kills only lymphoma cells.  Put a few of those antibody cells in a test tube and start culturing them until you have large batches of it and you now have an effective lymphoma treatment. 

Well of course that explanation is grossly oversimplified and the scientists who spent decades developing the perfect technique for manufacturing these treatments would be horrified but it is close enough for our non-scientific purposes.  If you want a more scientifically correct explanation click the link below for more information.

Kimballs biology pages explanation of Monoclonal Antibodies 

Click the link below to more information about specific monoclonal antibody treatments such as Rituxan.