This article is about the applications of antiserum. For an explanation of its production, see polyclonal antibodies.
Antiserum (plural: antisera) is blood serum containing polyclonalantibodies. Antiserum is used to pass on passive immunity to many diseases. Passive antibody transfusion from a previous human survivor is the only known effective treatment for Ebola infection (but with little success rate).
Antisera are widely used in diagnostic virology laboratories. The most common use of antiserum in humans is as antitoxin or antivenom, to treat envenomation.
Antibodies in the antiserum bind the infectious agent or antigen. The immune system then recognizes foreign agents bound to antibodies and triggers a more robust immune response. The use of antiserum is particularly effective against pathogens which are capable of evading the immune system in the unstimulated state but which are not robust enough to evade the stimulated immune system. The existence of antibodies to the agent therefore depends on an initial "lucky survivor" whose immune system by chance discovered a counteragent to the pathogen, or a "host species" which carries the pathogen, but does not suffer from its effects. Further stocks of antiserum can then be produced from the initial donor or from a donor organism that is inoculated with the pathogen and cured by some stock of preexisting antiserum
^Mupapa K, Massamba M, Kibadi K, Kuvula K, Bwaka A, Kipasa M, Colebunders R, Muyembe-Tamfum JJ. 1999. Treatment of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever with Blood Transfusions from Convalescent Patients. The Journal of Infectious Diseases 179(suppl 1):S18-23.~~~~
Mupapa K, Massamba M, Kibadi K, Kuvula K, Bwaka A, Kipasa M, Colebunders R, Muyembe-Tamfum JJ. 1999. Treatment of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever with Blood Transfusions from Convalescent Patients. The Journal of Infectious Diseases 179(suppl 1):S18-23.