An abzyme (from antibody and enzyme), also called catmab (from catalytic monoclonal antibody), and most often called catalytic antibody, is a monoclonal antibody with catalytic activity. Abzymes are usually raised in lab animals immunized against synthetic haptans, but some natural abzymes can be found in normal humans (anti-vasoactive intestinal peptide autoantibodies) and in patients with autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, where they can bind to and hydrolyze DNA. To date abzymes display only weak, modest catalytic activity and have not proved to be of any practical use. They are, however, subjects of considerable academic interest. Studying them has yielded important insights into reaction mechanisms, enzyme structure and function, catalysis, and the immune system itself. MORE
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