Introduction

Few substances have had a greater positive impact upon human healthcare management than antibodies, vaccines and adjuvants. For most of this century, these immunological agents have enjoyed widespread medical application, predominantly for the treatment/prevention of infectious diseases. As a group, they are often referred to as 'biologics' (Chapter 1).

Polyclonal antibody preparations have been used to induce passive immunity against a range of foreign (harmful) agents, and vaccines are used efficiently, and safely, to promote active immunization. Adjuvants are usually co-administered with the vaccine preparation, in order to enhance the immune response against the vaccine.

The development of modern biotechnological methodology has had a significant impact upon the therapeutic application of immunological agents, as discussed later. Monoclonal/engineered antibodies find a range of therapeutic uses, and many of the newer vaccine preparations are now produced by recombinant DNA technology. This chapter focuses predominantly upon those modern biotech products. Many currently used products, however, are still produced by more traditional means, and these, too, are also considered, in summary at least.

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