What are Antibodies?
Antibodies are proteins that the immune system uses to neutralize pathogens such as viruses, disease rearing bacteria, parasites, and fungi. They are often Y-shaped, and produced by plasma- a yellow substance in blood that is mostly water, but contains some enzymes and salts. Dr. Warren Green said it best, “When antibodies find their target, they bind to it, which then triggers a cascade of actions that vanquish the invader. Antibodies are part of the so-called “adaptive” immune system, the arm of the immune system that learns to recognize and eliminate specific pathogens”
How do Antibodies work?
Anti-bodies “search” for foreign invaders in the body. Upon finding a foreign substance, antibodies then attach themselves to said pathogen. As previously mentioned this triggers a “cascade of reactions” which help the body get rid of the disease. Antibodies, are programmed to recognize particular “shapes” on things such as viruses (ie, spike protein on the coronavirus). According to the biology project at the University of Arizona, “Antibodies are divided into five major classes, IgM, IgG, Iga, IgD, and IgE, based on their constant region structure and immune function.”
Roles that Antibodies play
Antibodies play 3 major roles
- They are dispersed through the body (through blood, and mucus), and attach themselves to pathogenic substances.
- They trigger a series of actions, including punching through cell walls.
- They facilitate phagocytosis
Antibodies can go wrong however, and attack healthy cells within the body. The reason for which is currently unknown. These are known as auto-immune diseases. A list of notable ones follow.
- Lupus- A disease in which healthy tissue is targeted
- Multiple Sclerosis- A disease in which the immune system “eats” nerve coverings
- Celiac Disease- A disease which triggers a reaction to gluten
- Type 1 Diabetes- A disease in which the pancreas fails to produce insulin
- Vasculitis- A disease which causes the inflammation of blood vessels.
- Mayo Clinic