The development of hybridoma technology for producing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) by Kohler and Milstein (1975) counts as one of the major medical breakthroughs, opening up endless possibilities for research, diagnosis and for treatment of a whole variety of diseases. Therapeutic mAbs were introduced three decades ago. The first generation of therapeutic mAbs of murine origin showed high immunogenicity, which limited efficacy and was associated with severe infusion reactions. Subsequently chimeric, humanized, and fully human antibodies were introduced as therapeutics, these mAbs were considerably less immunogenic. Unexpectedly humanized mAbs generally show similar immunogenicity as chimeric antibodies; based on sequence homology chimeric mAbs are sometimes more “human” than humanized mAbs. With the introduction of the regulatory concept of similar biological medicines (biosimilars) a key concern is the similarity in terms of immunogenicity of these biosimilars with their originators. This review focuses briefly on the mechanisms of induction of immunogenicity by biopharmaceuticals, mAbs in particular, in relation to the target of the immune system.
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