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Within our immune system, special cells known as B lymphocytes produce antibodies which are able to stick to invading organisms such as bacteria and viruses. Once stuck to the invaders, other immune cells are able to recognise the antibodies and destroy the attached bacteria or virus.

This whole process begins to become problematic when the B cells produce antibodies against the normal cells within the body. These are called auto-antibodies and occur due to a problem within the body, be it inherited (i.e. runs in the family) or acquired. Once the auto-antibodies have been produced, they bind to cells within your body, allowing the immune system to destroy the normal cells. This can lead to problems as it can severely damage organs that are vital for keeping us alive.

Probably the most common auto-antibody disease is type 1 diabetes mellitus. In this case the body begins to produce antibodies that destroy the pancreas. When this happens, the levels of insulin in the blood fall below adequate levels, causing the disease.