Three important agents are used in medicine to supplement the immune response:
- Antibiotics are chemicals that are harmful to bacteria.
- Vaccines are substances that stimulate the production of memory cells. Inactivated viruses or fragments of viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms are used as vaccines. Once memory cells are formed, the introduction of the live microorganism will stimulate a swift response by the immune system before any disease can become established.
- Passive immunity is obtained by transferring antibodies from an individual who previously had a disease to a newly infected individual. Newborn infants are protected by passive immunity through the transfer of antibodies across the placenta and by antibodies in breast milk.