Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are lab-grown antibodies that can help treat a number of conditions. A doctor may suggest them as a treatment option for people who have severe asthma.

A person’s immune system makes antibodies to fight foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. Researchers created mAbs to mimic specific antibodies. They can help prevent certain cells from multiplying or inhibit the response of other cells.

Asthma is a long-term condition that affects a person’s airways. It can cause the airways to become inflamed and narrow, making breathing difficult.

Certain triggers, such as pollen, stress, or exercise, can cause a person’s asthma symptoms to worsen. If these symptoms become worse, they can develop into an asthma attack. Monoclonal antibodies can provide a treatment option for people who have asthma that does not respond to other treatments.

Read on to learn more about how effectively mAbs can treat asthma.

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Monoclonal antibodies are a form of biologic. A biologic is a type of treatment that derives from the cells of a living organism. Manufacturers can grow biologics from the cells of organisms, such as bacteria or mice. Scientists then modify the cells to allow them to target specific molecules in a person.

Information from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) notes that biologics can help reduce the amount of asthma flares a person has. This can help reduce a person’s:

  • hospitalizations
  • visits to the emergency room
  • need for oral steroids
  • asthma symptoms
  • dose of other controller medications
  • missed school or work days

How do mAbs work?

MAbs work by interrupting the immune response to an asthma trigger. When a person has asthma, their immune system overreacts to certain triggers, causing:

  • inflammation
  • swollen, narrowed airways
  • additional mucus in the airway
  • a tightening of muscles in the airway
  • thickened airway walls

During an immune response, a person’s immune system releases antibodies. MAbs target these antibodies, as well as inflammatory molecules or cell receptors. This helps prevent the antibodies from causing asthma symptoms.

There are a number of different mAb injections a doctor can use to treat a person’s asthma. The type of mAb used may depend on a person’s age or the type of asthma they have.


Doctors use dupilumab to treat severe and uncontrolled eosinophilic asthma in adults and adolescents over 12 years old. It can also be used alongside other medications to treat asthma in adults and children aged 6 months and older.

A high amount of white blood cells, called eosinophils, in a person’s lungs and airways causes eosinophilic asthma. These cells can become overactive, leading to asthma symptoms.

A doctor may give a person their first dose of dupilumab. Afterward, a person may give themselves injections of dupilumab every 2 weeks. Children ages 6–11 years may have a dupilumab injection every 2–4 weeks, depending on their weight.


Doctors use omalizumab to treat asthma caused by allergic reactions. It is available for adults and children over 6 years old. A person can give themselves omalizumab injections every 2 or 4 weeks.


Doctors use mepolizumab to treat eosinophilic asthma in adults and children over 6 years old. A doctor may give a person their first dose of mepolizumab. Then, a person may inject themselves every 4 weeks.


Doctors use reslizumab to treat severe and uncontrolled eosinophilic asthma. A doctor usually gives a person a reslizumab infusion every 4 weeks into their veins. A person may need to go to a facility to receive this medication. A doctor will monitor a person for signs of an allergic reaction after they receive reslizumab.


Doctors use benralizumab to treat eosinophilic asthma in adults and children over 12 years old. A person may receive their first three injections of benralizumab once every 4 weeks. After that, they may receive a dose every 8 weeks.


Doctors use tezepelumab alongside other medications to treat asthma in adults and children over 12 years old. A healthcare professional usually treats a person with tezepelumab once every 4 weeks.

The following table shows the possible side effects of mAbs, as well as the serious side effects:

Possible side effectsDupilumabOmalizumabMepolizumabReslizumabBenralizumabTezepelumab
Symptoms at the injection site
Sore throat
Runny nose
Mouth, lip, or skin sores
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Facial redness or rash
Muscle pain
Pain in joints, arms, or legs
Swelling inside the nose, throat, or sinuses
Stomach pain
Dry, itchy skin
Muscle spasms
Mouth or throat pain
Nasal dryness
Back pain
Serious side effects
New or worsening eye problems
New or worsening joint problems
Shortness of breath
Chest pain or tightness
Pins and needles or numbness in arms or legs
Swelling of the face, tongue, eyelids, or throat
Swollen lymph nodes
Wheezing or difficulty breathing or swallowing
Tightness in the chest or throat
Rapid heartbeat
Fainting, lightheadedness, or dizziness
Nausea or vomiting
Stomach cramps or discomfort
Flat, firm, hot, red, and painful skin lumps
Coughing up blood

If a person experiences any serious side effects after receiving an mAb injection, they should seek immediate medical attention.

Other treatments a doctor may prescribe to treat asthma include:

  • Bronchodilators: Bronchodilator medications are available as an inhaler and help relax and open a person’s airways. Bronchodilators can provide quick, short-acting relief or relief from symptoms for up to 12 hours.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids: Inhaled corticosteroids are also available as an inhaler and help prevent swelling and excess mucus and fluid in a person’s airways.
  • Oral corticosteroids: Oral corticosteroids are 10 times the dose of inhaled corticosteroids. Doctors generally prescribe them for short-term use. They can help gradually reduce asthma symptoms and open airways.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy involves a doctor injecting a person with increasing doses of an allergen that triggers their asthma. This is so the immune system can gradually become familiar with the allergen.
  • Bronchial thermoplasty: Bronchial thermoplasty involves a doctor administering radio waves to a person’s airways. This helps remove some smooth muscle from the airway, which reduces narrowing.

The kind of mAb a doctor uses to treat a person can depend on various factors, such as:

  • the person’s age
  • the type of asthma they have
  • other health issues the person has
  • how frequently they can receive doses of the mAb
  • the development of the mAb
  • the type of molecule the mAb binds to

For certain people, a doctor may treat a person with multiple mAbs. A case study from 2020 found that a person with severe allergic asthma who was treated with omalizumab and mepolizumab showed a marked improvement in the air exhaled over 1 second.

A person can speak with a doctor about which mAb treatment is right for them.

Monoclonal antibodies are a type of biologic that a person can use to treat uncontrolled asthma. MAbs work by inhibiting a person’s immune response to certain triggers.

There are various mAbs a doctor can use to treat a person with asthma. A person can speak with a doctor about which mAb could work best for them.