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An abzyme is an monoclonal antibody that shows catalytic activity.[1] and show significant potential for generation of novel therapeutic agents fighting against human disease such as HIV. [2][3]

Abzymes are able to increase the velocity of chemical reactions due to having a shape complementary to the transition state thus stabillizing the state of transition of the intermediate compound. Antigen binding by antibodies is highly specific and this allows antibodies [4] that can catalyze chemical reactions to be discovered.



Catalysis of reactions by an antibody was proposed in 1969 bu Wiiiam P. Jencks In 1988 Sudhir Paul discovered the ability of the immune system to produce abzymes.Later the antibody was used for catalytic purposes and in 1994 Peter G.Schultz and Richard A. Lerner received the Nobel prize.[5]


They can be obtained from in healthy patients or animal serum but may also be found in individuals with autoimmune disorders such as lupus erythematosus . When binding abzymes hydrolyse DNA [6] and behave as catalysts. However only show weak catalystic activity,which means there are opportunities for research in biological engineering to alter the molecules minimally to enhance their actions. Most commonly abzymes are artificially constructed.


catalyst  is a substance that lowers the activation energy of a reaction enabling reactions to proceed under less favourable conditions Catalysts speed up the rate of chemical reactions and are recycled after the reaction. The free energy difference between the reactants and products is equilibrium for the reaction,enzymes do not afftect the equilibrium position, they affect the time taken for the postion to be attained. Many reactants, although very reactive will not undergo a reaction due to not having sufficient energy, known as activation energy.The reaction must proceed via a transition state. The transition state has a higher free energy than the substrate and product therefore acts as a barrier. Enzymes find an alternative pathway with a lower activation energy, the facillitate the formation of the transition state.

Drug development and application

An abzyme is an example of a transition state analogue which has various applications in drug development[7]allergy treatment and treatment of viral and bacterial infections Transition state analogues can act as potent inhibitiors and be used as immunogens generating novel catalysts. Arificial Abzymes (Ab) have been used to treat cocaine addition.Cocaine binds to dopamine neurotransmitter receptor, blocking neurotransmitter reuptake. Dopamine builds up at the synapse which increases the pleasurable effect experienced when using cocaine The Ab is able to hydrolyze cocaine and ensures the action of cocaine is no longer prolonged


  1. Wikipedia (2014) Structural Biochemistry/Protein function/Abzyme [online] Available at:http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Structural_Biochemistry/Protein_function/Abzyme [Accessed 23 November 2014]
  2. Alberts. B. et al (2008) Molecular Biology of The Cell 5th Ed. United states: The Garland science, Taylor and Francis group.
  3. End HIV (2014) What’s an Abzyme [online] Available at http://www.endhiv.com/tag/whats-an-abzyme/ [Accessed 22nd November 2014]
  4. Simpkins. J. et al (1992) Advanced Human Biology London: Collins educational
  5. Nobel Prize.org (2014) [Online] Available at: www.nobelprize.org [Accessed 26th November 2014]
  6. Alberts. B. et al (2008) Molecular Biology of The Cell 5th Ed. United states: The Garland science, Taylor and Francis group.
  7. Abzymetx (2014) Abzyme Therapeutics [online] Available at http://www.abzymetx.com/ [Accessed 23 November 2014]
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