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What are Biologics?

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  • Written By: Eric Stolze
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Biologics are medical products that are made from living organisms or produced from substances that are generated by living things. These products are also known as biologic agents. Doctors often use these agents to treat patients with a variety of health conditions. Physicians may use several types of biologics, including allergenics, blood products and vaccines.

An allergenic is a biologic that medical professionals can use to test patients for allergies or contact dermatitis. Allergenic extracts are medical products that contain common allergens such as pollens, molds or foods. Health care professionals may inject an allergenic extract into a patient’s skin to see if it causes an allergic reaction. An allergen patch test is typically conducted with a patch that contains fragrance mixes, rubber or other substances that may trigger contact dermatitis when applied to the skin. Health care professionals may apply the patch test to a patient’s skin to see if contact dermatitis develops.

Blood products are biologics such as blood plasma, coagulation factors and other medications that contain human blood or blood components. These medical products are produced from donated blood or blood plasma. Donated batches of blood and blood plasma are usually tested for infectious diseases before they are used to manufacture blood products.

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Vaccines are biologics that are produced from small amounts of infectious agents such as viruses. People may receive a vaccine to trigger the build up of antibodies in the immune system that protect the body from infection. Some common types of vaccines are influenza vaccines and vaccines that protect against mumps, rubella and measles.

Gene therapy biologics include genetic materials that doctors use in some cases to replace important genetic factors that are absent or faulty in a patient’s body. Some diseases may be related to deficient human genes. Researchers are studying several types of genetic therapies for treating diseases such as heart disease, cancer and cystic fibrosis.

Biological response modifiers are biologic drugs that contain antibodies or other disease-fighting substances that are normally found in the human body. Tumor necrosis factor is a biological response modifier that may restrict the activity of inflammation-causing proteins and may be prescribed to patients with rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease. In some cases, patients may develop side effects from this type of drug that can include flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and nausea.

Doctors may use human tissue products, a type of biologic tissue that can be transplanted or infused into a patient’s body, in some cases. Medical professionals typically use tissue cells that are produced from stem cells. These tissue cells can form heart valves, corneas and other specific types of human tissue. Physicians may recommend human tissue products to replace or strengthen a patient’s own faulty or weak tissues.

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