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Everything about passive immunity

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Whenever a person has been stricken by illnesses such as measles, chickenpox, etc., s/he becomes immune to the same; this is a type of active immunity.

Another form of active immunity results whenever a specific vaccine is administered to the body.

As and when the human body becomes immune, it develops antibodies that activate immune cells to specific pathogens.

If the body encounters similar pathogens again, it deploys the lifetime immune cells for a battle.

However, there is another type of immunity, which is different from the one discussed above. The second type of immunity is known as passive immunity.

During passive immunity, the body is supplied with someone else’s antibodies; these antibodies are often referred to as ‘loaned antibodies’.

Such loaned antibodies help provide protection against certain infection-causing pathogens. However, such type of immunity is short-lived (having a life of weeks or months).

Vaccine research & development in India has taken a leap owing to the dedication of several scientists and research methodologists.

Nowadays, vaccines in India have been developed using advanced vaccine research methodologies.

Vaccine research & development in India

Types of passive immunity

  • Artificial: When a body has artificial passive immunity then it receives antibodies in the form of medication. Such antibodies come from purified and pooled blood products of immune animals or people. In point of fact, the early antibody-containing preparations were derived from horses, sheep and rabbits.
  • Natural: In several instances, the infants acquire passive immunity whenever their mother’s antibodies and other pathogen-fighting cells pass over the placenta, reaching the developing fetus; usually, such supply takes place during the third trimester. A substance called colostrum is rich in antibodies that are supplied in the initial days of nursing before a mother starts producing breast milk. Nevertheless, the protection is given by maternity antibodies (natural passive immunity) lasts for six months.

History of passive immunity

The study of bacteriology became prevalent in the late 1800s. The development of bacteriology made the use of antibodies prevalent. In circa 1890, the guinea pigs were immunized against diphtheria.

The immunization was done with the aid of the heat-treated blood products, which are derived from animals that are already immune.

After the guinea pigs, the same blood products were administered over humans who suffered from diphtheria, and the results were positive.

The antibody-containing blood-product was known as diphtheria antitoxin.

After the development of diphtheria antitoxin, the scientists were devoted to the developing work of antitoxins for tetanus, bubonic plague, smallpox, polio, to mention a few.

Passive immunization in today’s world

Presently, patients are given passive immunization to treat diseases such as cytomegalovirus and diphtheria.

Antibody treatments (passive immunization) gain prominence among people, having low immunity. However, such type of immunization will not be used in people (not having excessively low immunity).

Advantages of passive immunization

There are several benefits of passive immunization; some of them are enlisted below.

  • Passive immunization can act quickly
  • With passive immunity, the immune response lasts for days and even months
  • Getting passive immunity is beneficial for less responsive immune systems

At present, several fresh technologies have been developed to make monoclonal antibodies that are absolutely pure and directed toward a single pathogen.

With such inimitable progress in medical science, there is a positive hope to the development of passive immunization.

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