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Cleanup crew

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Science  06 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6226, pp. 1058-1061
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6226.1058

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Summary

Our bodies produce not only the familiar, disease-fighting immune antibodies, but also another group of antibodies called natural antibodies whose functions researchers have begun to pin down. Natural antibodies differ from immune antibodies in several ways. We start producing them before birth, instead of after a pathogen attack or vaccination. Many natural antibodies target our own cells. And many of them recognize a range of targets instead of a single antigen. Natural antibodies serve as a first line of defense against pathogens. They also help prevent inflammation and clean up the large number of cells that die in our bodies every day. Researchers are now investigating whether we can use natural antibodies to diagnoses diseases such as Alzheimer's and to predict rejection of transplanted organs.