Vaccines: Antibodies + Antigens

  • What are Vaccines
  • Antibodies + Antigens
  • Synthetic processes for Antibodies (Hyperdoma + Phage image)

What are Vaccines?

Vaccines are considered the pinnacle of preventative medicine, first discovered by Edward Jenner in 1796 when his vaccine gave a kid with cowpox immunity to further infection.

Antibodies and Antigens

Antibodies and antigens are the substances that the immune system creates to defend the body from viruses. Antibodies are y shaped blood proteins, that specifically bind to certain antigens, which are infectious agents that are found in viruses (we’ll focus on this later on). But throughout this section, we’re going to break down where they come from, their structure, and how they work:


Antibodies are produced naturally in the body by B Lymphocytes or B Cells, these cells are created in the bone marrow and then migrate to different lymphoid tissue as part of the adaptive immune response. Lymphoid tissue is located at points in the body that are more susceptible to viral infection, for example a popular example of lymph node placement would be in the neck because viral infections in the throats are very common.



There are four three main functions:

  • Antibodies are secreted into the blood and mucosa, where they bind to and activate foreign substances such as pathogens and toxins (neutralization)
  • Antibodies activate the complement system to destroy bacterial cells by lysis (punching holes in the cell wall)
  • Antibodies facilitate phagocytosis of foreign substances by phagocytic cells (opsonization)

Synthetic Processes

Throughout this entire article, I’ve been talking about how the body can generate antibodies in a natural way but did you know that we can also generate the required antibodies in a lab?


It’s a process that allows researchers to produce monoclonal antibodies, that then allow researchers to perform in vivo experiments and diagnostics.

  1. Injecting the host with the antigen
  2. Extracting different spleen cells
  3. Fusing spleen cells with the myeloma cells (hybridomas)
  4. Harvesting antigen-specific cells, and replicating

Phage Imaging

Here’s another process of how we can achieve monoclonal antibodies by using phage antibodies and their receptors.

  1. Find a phage antibody library
  2. Use the pathogen to find a suitable receptor in the library
  3. Then take the genes from the antibody phage, and create cellular factories (often bacteria cells) to mass-produce the needed antibody drug.
  • Vaccines are actually versions of the pathogen that we are trying to get rid of, and we use these versions to trigger an immune response in the body, which will help generate the needed antibodies.
  • Antibodies are produced by B cells that are found in lymphatic tissues, originally from the bone marrow. They help fight off antigens in the body.
  • Hybridoma and Phage Imaging are processes that allow researchers to create monoclonal antibodies, which in turn helps create a drug for vaccination purposes.



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Valmik Rao

Valmik Rao

Just a 16-year-old trying to solve the world’s biggest problems…