Antibodies are important components of the immune system that confer specific immunity. The specific targeting ability of antibodies has been exploited in research and medical diagnosis since decades. The revolutionary hybridoma technology, developed by Köhler and Milstein in 1975, made it possible to produce monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in a large scale. This paved way for the translation of mAbs as a therapeutic modality with the first therapeutic mAb, the CD3-specific muromonab (OKT3), coming into existence in 1986. Therapeutic antibodies are now an important class of drugs that have applications in various therapeutic areas including cancer, inflammatory disease, organ transplantation, cardiovascular disease, pathogenic infection, respiratory disease and ophthalmological disease.
So far, nearly 79 mAb drugs have been approved for clinical use and more than 500 are in the clinical development pipeline. Therapeutic intervention using antibodies have been very successful, particularly in cancer and inflammatory diseases, which were previously considered as very difficult to treat.