Antibodies manage to protect us against germs principally by two ways: by enveloping their surfaces (opsonisation), what makes their engulfment and killing by phagocytes easier and more effective or by cell lysis. However, in this case, they need a help from the complement system.
Antibodies are molecules of glycoprotein nature that have ability to bind antigens either soluble or bound in membranes of cells in a specific way. They are present in plasma and in tissue fluids (lymph, saliva, tears etc.). As most of antibodies belong to the gamma globulins of plasma proteins, they were previously known under the term gammaglobulins; their contemporary nomenclature is immunoglobulins (Ig). There are five classes of immunoglobulins: IgG, IgM, IgA, IgE, and IgE, respectively. They have specific biochemical structure and function. The principal biological role is to bind antigens; except it, they can activate the complement, opsonise bacteria, bind to receptors of various cell of the immune system etc.
Common people perceive Immunology as a scientific branch that studies defence of an organism against germs, cancer cells, toxins etc. Nowadays, Immunology is defined a scientific branch that studies immunity, its cellular and molecular processes that proceed after a foreign substance, an antigen, enters our body. There are many notable personalities who contributed to its development. Let us mention only some of them – Louis Pasteur, Ilja Mecnikov, Jean Dausset and many, many others. They contributed to the fact that Immunology belongs to those scientific disciplines that develop the most intensively in recent years.