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The use of antibodies in medicine and research depends on their specificity and affinity in the recogniton and binding of individual molecules. However, these applications are limited to the extracellular targets. Advances in antibody engineering has allowed the manipulation of the antibody segments containing the antigen-binding regions and generation of small fragments that can be stably expressed in cells. These entities are called intracellular antibodies or intrabodies and have being successfully applied, mainly in the scFv format, to inhibit the function of intracellular target proteins in specific cellular compartments. As new techniques to select and isolate intrabody fragments have been developed, intrabodies are beginning to be used to interfere with the function of a greater number of relevant disease targets. Just as monoclonal antibodies are opening a new era in human therapeutics, intrabodies promise a new prospective for antibody tools for therapy and research. Their varied mode of action gives intrabodies great potential in different approaches in the treatment of human diseases, as well as in the area of functional genomics for characterisation of novel gene products and subsequent validation as potential drug targets. While techniques for identifying functional intrabodies have improved, there are still many significant problems to be overcome before intrabodies can actually be used in treatment of diseases such as cancer, AIDS or neuro-degenerative disorders.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Mol Med

Publication Date





519 - 528


Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Animals, Clinical Trials as Topic, Genetic Therapy, HIV-1, Humans, Immunoglobulin Variable Region, Immunotherapy, Neoplasms, Neurodegenerative Diseases, Pharmaceutical Preparations