Plugging into the Immunology Matrix

Originally published on September 19th, 2019 for Synbiobeta.

Antibodies are the human body’s most versatile and effective system for protecting the body from foreign threats. Because of their unique structure, antibodies can specifically recognize and bind to pathogens and other foreign molecules.  When they do, they signal the immune system to attack and eliminate the invader, acting as custom-made seek and destroy missiles against viruses, bacteria, toxins and rogue cancer cells. Antibodies bind to foreign molecules, or antigens, in a lock and a key mode: specific antibodies for specific antigens.

The human immune system has the potential to produce an estimated 1014 different antibodies, of which each of us makes over a billion at any given time.  Once an antibody binds to a pathogen, the immune system drives a rapid evolutionary process of random mutation and selection that creates highly optimized antibodies with exquisitely precise antibody-antigen recognition.

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