Antibodies are complex proteins naturally generated by the immune system to neutralize foreign pathogens such as bacteria or viruses. B cells, a white blood cell type responsible for the generation of antibodies in response to pathogens, secrete billions of antibodies with different specificities into the bloodstream. Antibodies are structurally distinct Y-shaped proteins formed through the combination of two long proteins, called heavy chains, and two short proteins, called light chains. Each heavy and light chain pair forms a binding site where the antibody specifically binds its target, otherwise known as an antigen, at the Fab domain of the antibody molecule.
The specificity of each antibody to a target, and the potency of its binding strength to that target are defined by the amino acid sequences of heavy and light chains in the Fab domain of the antibody molecule. The other end of the antibody, called the Fc domain, is responsible for communication between the antibody and the rest of the immune system. Fc domains bind to various receptors and cause immune system effector responses.
Therapeutic antibodies are typically non-naturally occurring, or recombinant, antibodies specifically developed to treat human diseases by binding to certain proteins, and thereby modulating key biological processes. Therapeutic antibodies are injectable products that are typically dosed subcutaneously or intravenously.