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Antiserum (plural: antisera) is human or nonhuman blood serum containing polyclonal antibodies and is used to pass on passive immunity to many diseases. For example, passive antibody transfusion from a previous human survivor (convalescent serum) used to be the only known effective treatment for Ebola infection (but with little success rate).[1]

Antisera are widely used in diagnostic virology laboratories. The most common use of antiserum in humans is as antitoxin or antivenom, to treat envenomation.

How it works[edit]

Antibodies in the antiserum bind the infectious agent or antigen.[2] 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.[3] 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. Diluted snake venom is often used as an antiserum to give a passive immunity to the snake bite itself.[4][5]


  1. ^ 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 (suppl 1)". The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 179 Suppl 1 (Volume 179): S18–S23. doi:10.1086/514298. PMID 9988160. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  2. ^ de Andrade, Fábio Goulart, et al. "The Production And Characterization Of Anti-Bothropic And Anti-Crotalic Igy Antibodies In Laying Hens: A Long Term Experiment." Toxicon 66.(2013): 18-24. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.
  3. ^ Mortimer, Nathan T., et al. "Parasitoid Wasp Venom SERCA Regulates Drosophila Calcium Levels And Inhibits Cellular Immunity." Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America 110.23 (n.d.): 9427-9432. Biological Abstracts 1969 - Present. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.
  4. ^ O'Leary, M.A., K. Maduwage, and G.K. Isbister. "Use Of Immunoturbidimetry To Detect Venom–Antivenom Binding Using Snake Venoms." Journal of Pharmacological & Toxicological Methods 67.3 (2013): 177-181. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.
  5. ^ Vogel, Carl-Wilhelm, Paul W. Finnegan, and David C. Fritzinger. "Humanized Cobra Venom Factor: Structure, Activity, And Therapeutic Efficacy In Preclinical Disease Models." Molecular Immunology 61.2 (2014): 191-203. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

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