Antibodies

Antibodies, a quick biology lesson

Understanding how the immune system works is necessary before understanding our technology. So for those who didn’t follow in Science class, we’ve put together a simplified explaination of our immune system.

Vocabulary

To understand to significance of our discoveries one must first understand our product – antibodies, and the immune system within which they naturally functions. For our general audience we have simplified to 4 a system that actually includes 27 components.

Antigen designates all kinds of undesirable bodies like viruses, toxins or harmful bacterias.

Antibodies or IgG is the simplified name for immunoglobulin G which fights disease infection.

Phagocytes, or T cells, are cell capable of digesting antigens.

Lymphocytes, or B cells are cells capable of generating antibodies.

Immune response

When an antigen enters your body, antibodies will attach to it. Phagocytes then grab onto the antibodies, and digest them together with the antigens. Without antibodies, phagocytes have no handle to absorb antigens. Another function of antibodies is to prevent the antigen from entering healthy cells.

But not all antibodies can work with all antigens. Antibodies attach to antigens with a unique fab, or hook. Each kind of antigen has a different hook, and the antibody must have the matching hook to attach to the antigen.

When you first get in contact with an antigen, it takes time for your body to produce the matching antibody. After successfully matching antibodies and antigens, your body will start producing more antibodies of the successful type. Then your body will quickly get rid of the antigen.

Between the first contact with the antigen, and the mass production of matching antibodies, a few days may pass. Meanwhile, antigens will proliferate freely, outnumbering your immune system, and causing you to be sick.

Memory

Once your body has produced one type of antibodies it will continue to produce them for your entire lifetime. Those antibodies will always be there in case the antigen returns.

Such is the principle that vaccines rely upon to function. They introduce a weak antigen, or a small number of antigen into your body, but just enough to produce antibodies, and not enough to get sick. Once your body has started to produce the matching antibodies, it will continue to do so for your entire life, possibly making you immune to that antigen.

Yet this principle isn’t an absolute truth, many antigens exist in different forms, with different hooks, like the flu. Even if you have antibodies from a last year’s flu in your system, they might have no effects over this year’s flu and you may get sick again.

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