Therapeutic antibodies for human diseases at the dawn of the twenty-first century

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2003 Jan;2(1):52-62. doi: 10.1038/nrd984.


Antibodies are highly specific, naturally evolved molecules that recognize and eliminate pathogenic and disease antigens. The past 30 years of antibody research have hinted at the promise of new versatile therapeutic agents to fight cancer, autoimmune diseases and infection. Technology development and the testing of new generations of antibody reagents have altered our view of how they might be used for prophylactic and therapeutic purposes. The therapeutic antibodies of today are genetically engineered molecules that are designed to ensure high specificity and functionality. Some antibodies are loaded with toxic modules, whereas others are designed to function naturally, depending on the therapeutic application. In this review, we discuss various aspects of antibodies that are relevant to their use as as therapeutic agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antibodies / chemistry
  • Antibodies / pharmacology
  • Antibodies / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / chemistry
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / therapeutic use
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects
  • Infection Control


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antibodies
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm