Antibodies in society

Antibodies are used in our everyday lives, in products and services that we rely on


Antibody targets

The broad spectrum of reliance on antibody based tests and services can be illustrated in the following table :

table 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although other testing methods are available (Mass spectrometry, gas chromatography etc), antibody based tests provide a cheap, reliable and rapid alternative or are used in the initial ‘clean-up’ preparation phase, designed to isolate the molecule of interest in a complex sample prior to analysis by another method. All these tests use antibodies derived from animals. Some of them were developed from a hybridoma, raised in animals and subsequently amplified in flasks, although subsequent developments or new tests will require additional use of animals. Others use polyclonal antibodies, taken from the serum and requiring a continuous supply of antibodies from animals.

Health care and therapeutics

More than 30 monoclonal antibody-based therapies have been approved for clinical use in the past 25 years. Antibodies are also used as an indispensable link in the healthcare chain, relied upon in diagnostics and contributing to optimized disease management, enhanced patient care, treatment options and reduced public health costs. Antibody based tests (in vitro diagnostic, histology and laboratory tests are used in the laboratory or other health professional settings to diagnose and monitor infectious, chronic or sexually-transmitted diseases and to manage oncology treatment


Environment

Antibodies are used at multiple stages within the production process to detect or extract an alarming number of potential chemical contaminants such as allergens (milk, egg, fish, gluten, soy, and various types of nuts), naturally occurring toxins (mycotoxins [aflatoxins found in nuts, spices and maize, ochratoxins found in fruit beverages such as wine and beer, patulin found in fruit juices and apple products, citrinin found in wheat, rice, corn, barley, oats and rye, ergot found in grasses, and Fusarium found in cereals], phytohaemagglutinin found in legumes), pyrrolizidine alkaloids, grayanotoxin, mushroom toxins, scombrotoxin (histamine), ciguatera, shellfish toxins, tetrodotoxin, among many others), antibiotics, natural heavy metals, agricultural chemicals and pesticides, arsenic contamination in water, pharmaceutical and veterinary drugs (Diazepam, antibiotics) and hormones (testosterone, Salbutamol, Beta agonist)


Research and development

FluorescentCells (1)

Antibodies are used to predict the safe limit for a potentially harmful existing ingredient in a cosmetic or household product. Tests such as these evolve from a multitude of investigative research and development or safety testing programs that seek to better understand normal biological pathways and pathologies by detecting the presence or change in expression of biological markers that can be translated into diagnostic tests, contaminant clean-up, therapeutics or toxicity tests.


In vitro diagnostics  (IVDs)

Antibodies are used in rapid test format, often available over the counter, for analysis of fertility, ovulation and pregnancy, substances of abuse and in anti-doping programs to detect performance enhancing drugs.

In vitro diagnostics (IVDs) are tests that are performed on samples (like blood or tissue) taken from the patient. They play a vital role in detecting changes in the normal functioning of the human body and therefore detect changes or diagnose and monitor diseases, conditions and infections. These include, test kits used in laboratories, Point of Care testing and self-testing devices

Tests intended for diagnosis must comply with stringent regulatory requirements transposed into national law. A full list of IVDs approved by the FDA can be found here (for access to the European market, manufacturers must submit their information to the European database of medical devices, EUROMED, which is not currently accessible to the public)

The global value of the IVD market is $80 billion. The growth of this market is influenced by a preference for point-of-care (POC) testing rather than hospital testing, the increasing demand for rapid and minimally invasive testing and diagnosis, new emerging market demands in poorer countries and an aging population in which the likelihood of chronic disease and cancer risk increases for individuals above the age of 65. The sequencing of the human genome, the development of methods for identifying and quantifying minute amounts of biomarkers and new computational techniques that allow the development of algorithms that define relationships between biomarkers and clinical conditions have combined to stimulate the development of thousands of new tests.

The value of the IVD market indicates to some degree the importance of and extent to which antibodies are relied upon in this sector although not all IVDs (such as blood glucose monitoring devices) rely on antibodies as analysis tools

 

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