The first monoclonal antibodies were developed in 1975 and despite the rapid utilization of these biological agents, they remain poorly understood by nurses who administer the agents. Monoclonal antibodies are a unique class of biological agents that have been developed for autoimmune disease, antitumor and antiplatelet therapy to name a few. Antibodies produced by the body in response to an infection are polyclonal antibodies, meaning the antibodies produced are not identical.
Monoclonal antibodies are immunoglobulins that are identical and bind to the same antigenic surface marker, thus the term targeted therapy. The naming of monoclonal antibodies is based on the target of the antibody (e.g. tumor, viral) and the source from which the antibody was produced (e.g. murine, human), followed by the “mab” suffix. While monoclonal antibodies have a wide therapeutic benefit, they have limitations including inability to cross the blood brain barrier and cost.
This presentation will review the history, types and immunogenicity of each type of monoclonal antibody. The nurse will understand the naming nomenclature of monoclonal antibodies and will be able to recognize the action of the antibody by the name given to the agent, as well as naming their own antibody. The nurse will be able to describe the differences in monoclonal antibodies and small molecules, including route of administration, clearance mechanism and side effects. At the conclusion of this presentation, the nurse will have a better understanding of the monoclonal antibody mechanism of action and potential side effects purely from understanding the naming nomenclature.
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- Belinda Mandrell, PhD RN CPNP