Biologics – the basics

Like a spacecraft docking to a space station: Via the docking of the messenger substance TNF (red) to its docking station (blue), an inflammation signal is activated. A small section of the huge lipid membrane, in which a body cell is enveloped, is represented yellow-white.  http://www.ngfn-2.ngfn.de/englisch/19_975.htm

Like a spacecraft docking to a space station: Via the docking of the messenger substance TNF (red) to its docking station (blue), an inflammation signal is activated. A small section of the huge lipid membrane, in which a body cell is enveloped, is represented yellow-white. http://www.ngfn-2.ngfn.de/englisch/19_975.htm

For me, biologics were the third medicine I tried for my RA (after methotrexate and sulfalazine).  I’ve tried Humira, Enbrel, and (currently) Remicade.  Biologics is a general term for a class of pharmaceuticals that are either from living organisms or at least partially synthesized from biological processes.  In the case of RA, biologics are different types of proteins that are thought to decrease RA activity.  For examples,

  • Immunoglobin fusion proteins: Orencia
  • Monoclonal antibodies: Humira, Remicade, Simponi
  • Recombinant TNF-receptor fusion protein: Enbrel

With the exception of Orencia, RA biologics act as TNF-antagonists.  Antagonists decrease the activity of specific enzymes, in our case, TNF. TNF, or tumor necrosis factor alpha, is a protein the signals cells to “INFLAME”!  Orencia deactivates T-cells, which are involved in immune responses.

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