Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Queen (Rituxi)Mab

Image of B cell and the effects of rituximab found here. Hm. I don't see a hazelnut carriage anywhere....or a cricket bone whip...

Dang. I wish that I could remember where I read an article that basically said this: Rituximab and other monoclonal antibody medications are given the suffix -mab in reference to Monoclonal Anti Bodies.

Which makes perfect sense. You can read more about nomenclature of monoclonal antibodies here.

But the article went on to claim that the -mab was also a tongue in cheek reference to Queen Mab: a miniature creature who drives her chariot into the noses and into the brains of sleeping people to compel them to experience dreams of wish-fulfillment. --Wikipedia.

Queen Mab is famously known for her description in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as spoken by Mercutio:
"O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider's web,
The collars of the moonshine's wat'ry beams,
Her whip of cricket's bone; the lash of film;
Her waggoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid:
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love...."

What an image. I'm thinking that I could possibly see some relationship here between a fancy new drug being the stuff of wish fulfillment. And, we all know that most scientists have um.......interesting...... senses of humor, at least in my experience, so it's conceivable that in a lab somewhere many years ago, a bunch of guys and gals in white coats were scratching their heads trying to decide how to name this new thing. And then one of them says, "Hey! It's a Monoclonal AntiBody! Let's identify it by MAB! And isn't it a hoot that Shakespeare called a nose-invading wish-fulfilling fairy queen Mab, too? Yeah!" And then they all dissolve into knee-slapping guffaws.

Rituximab and it's effects certainly has fulfilled a few of my wishes. I can definitely see that connection.

But as for the "Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep" part? Not particularly appealing, especially when Queen Mab is wielding a cricket bone whip and accompanied by a gnat waggoner. I guess I could perhaps tolerate a fairy queen riding up my nostrils, especially when she brings dreams of wish-fulfillment with her, but I draw the line when she's bringing along bugs and nut shells.


I much prefer my mental image of trainloads of cute rituximab mousies arriving into Station Julia ready to do battle with evil CD20 proteins and B cells.

Has anyone else seen this article? I'm not making this up, cross my heart and hope to die. AND I'm not delusional, either, at least about this particular incident. That Queen Mab article is out there somewhere......

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