Therapy Areas

This information is intended for the UK public

Introduction to immunoglobulins

Immunoglobulins (antibodies) are vitally important proteins which circulate in the blood and perform a wide variety of functions. Antibodies have a profound influence on how our immune system works.

The predominant type of antibody in human blood is immunoglobulin G (IgG). Its most important roles are to neutralize and eliminate viruses and bacteria that enter the body, products of bacterial metabolism (toxins) and substances which are formed during inflammation in the body or when cells are broken down.

IgG has a unique structure which allows it to bind to certain receptors on the surface of blood cells or to other cells in the immune system which then enables it to influence the behaviour of these cells. This process is capable of controlling cell proliferation and maturation.

Antibody concentrates as therapeutic agents

Immunoglobulin preparations in the form of antibody concentrates are used for the treatment of patients with a congenital (primary) or acquired antibody deficiencies, as well as for patients with autoimmune diseases.

In comparison with blood, these preparations contain five or ten times the quantity of IgG antibodies per ml. In this way, many millions of antibodies can be administered within a short time when required to support the body’s immune defence, to inhibit inflammatory processes and to support tissue regeneration.

The preparations are obtained from human blood plasma, are virus-inactivated, purified of unwanted secondary substances and concentrated. The collection of the plasma and also the production of immunoglobulin preparations are subject to stringent national and international guidelines.