The Miracle Of The Immune System

The Structure of Antibodies 

We have previously stated that antibodies are a type of protein. So, let us first examine the structure of proteins. 

Proteins are made up of amino acids. Twenty different types of amino acids are arranged in different sequences to form different proteins. This is similar to making different necklaces by using beads in twenty different colours. The main differences among proteins are due to the sequence of these amino acids.

Yet there is an important point to remember: Any error in the amino acid sequence makes the protein useless, and even harmful. Therefore, there is no room for even the smallest error in the sequence. 
So, how do the protein factories in the cell know in which sequence to arrange the amino acids they contain, and which protein to produce? The instructions for each of the thousands of different types of proteins are encoded in the genes found in the genetic data bank in the cell nucleus. 

Therefore, these genes are required for the production of the antibodies which are a type of protein. 

There is a very important miracle here. There are only one hundred thousand genes in the human body compared to the 1.920.000 antibodies that are produced. This means that nine hundred thousand genes are missing. 

Then how is it ever possible that such a small number of genes can produce antibodies about ten times their value? The miracle is revealed at this point. The cell combines the hundred thousand genes it contains in different combinations to form new antibodies. It receives the information from some genes and combines it with the information in other genes and makes the required production according to this combined information. 

1,920,000 different antibodies are formed as a result of 5,200 different combinations.4 This process represents a wisdom and planning that are too great for the human mind to comprehend, let alone design. 

An unlimited number of combinations can be made with the use of one hundred thousand genes. The cell, however, uses, with great intelligence, only 5,200 basic combinations and produces 1,920,000 specific antibodies. How has the cell learned to make the right combinations out of these unlimited possibilities to form the required antibodies?


1. Variable region of light chain, 2. Contant region of light chain, 3. Carbonhydrate group, 4. B Cell, 5. Antibodies, 6. Constant region of heavy chain, 7. antigen-binding, 8. Variable region of light chain, 9. Antigen, 10. Activated B-cells, 11. Plasma cell, 12. Free antibody, 13. Memory cell

Making the correct combinations out of an infinite number of possibilities aside, how has the cell got this idea of making combinations?

Moreover, the produced combinations serve a certain purpose, and aim to produce an antibody that would eliminate the antigen that enters the body. Therefore, the cell also knows the properties of the millions of antigens entering the body. 

No intellect in this world can produce a design of such unparalleled perfection. But cells only the size of a hundredth of a millimeter can do so.

So, how has the cell learned such a special system? 

The truth is that no cell has the opportunity to "learn" a biological function in the real sense. This is because the cell does not possess the ability to perform such an act at birth, nor has it the chance to develop the required skill during the rest of its lifetime. In such cases, it is a prerequisite that the system in the cell should be ready and complete at the beginning of life. The cell neither possesses the skill to learn such combinations, nor does it have the time to learn them, as this would cause it to fail in stopping the antigens entering the body and the body would lose the war. 

The fact that a system that baffles mankind, even at the point of comprehending it, has been placed in a cell which has no ability to think and reason, has a very special meaning. This is the reflection of the uniqueness of the creation of God, the All-Knowing, in a tiny cell. In the Qur'an, it is stated that God's superior wisdom encompasses everything: 

...They cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His Footstool encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent. (Surat al-Baqara: 255)

If you were to design an antibody molecule, how would you do it? You would first have to carry out comprehensive research before deciding on the shape of the molecule. Surely you could not shape it randomly without an exact knowledge of its duty. Since the antibodies you are going to produce will make contact with antigens, you would have to be very well informed about the structure and specifications of the antigen, too. 

Eventually, the antibody you will produce has to have a special and unique shape at one end. Only then can it bind to an antigen. The other end of it has to be similar to other antibodies. This is the only way the antigen destructing mechanism can be activated. As a result, one end has to be standard, while the other has to be different from the others (which come in more than one million different types). 

Human beings, however, have been unable to design an antibody, despite all the technology at their disposal. The antibodies produced in the laboratory environment are either derived from antibody samples taken from the human body, or the bodies of other living beings. 

4- Scientific American, September 1993, p. 54