How Do Antibodies Work?

17 June, 2020

Your plasma is almost 90% water, 1% salts and glucose, while the rest is proteins. These tiny proteins are known as antibodies, and they perform the huge task of identifying and help remove microbes that cause diseases. But what are they, and how do they fight diseases? 

  1. What are antibodies? 

Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins, or immunoglobulins, that identify disease-causing microbes that invade your body, and inform the immune system about them. The immune system then releases T cells which attack the identified microbes, or pathogens, and remove them from your body. Pathogens can be viruses, bacteria, or other chemicals that are foreign to your immune system.  

  1. How do antibodies work? 

Antibodies identify pathogens with the tips of their “Y”, which are similar to locks, or an incomplete jigsaw puzzle. Pathogens, on the other hand, are shaped such that they fit onto the antibodies’ tips, like a key or the missing jigsaw piece.  

Once locked with precision and having identified the pathogen, they sound the alarm. This signals the immune system to create more antibodies – though antibodies that are unique to the identified pathogen, just like a lock can latch onto only one kind of key. In this way, the immune system successfully marks the pathogens, such that it knows which particles to attack.  

And to attack the marked pathogens, the immune system releases what are called ‘T’ cells. The remains of the infection are taken away by phagocytes, large cells that can consume foreign matter.  

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