Antibodies: Timeline of key events

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Ehrlich played a significant role in the development of the first serum therapy to combat diphtheria in the 1890s and devised methods for standardising therapeutic serums. In addition he invented staining techniques for distinguishing different types of blood cells which laid the foundation for diagnosing blood disorders. In 1900 he popularised the 'magic bullet' concept which promoted the idea of developing a drug capable of killing specific disease-causing microbes, like bacteria, without harming the body itself. Nine years later he succeeded in creating Salvasan, the first drug created to target a specific pathogen and the first effective medical treatment for syphilis. Ehrlich also coined the term 'antibody' and transformed understandings of how the immune system worked. In 1908 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine on the back of this work. Despite his groundbreaking research, Ehrlich struggled to get a permanent position because of his Jewish background. 1854-03-14T00:00:00+0000von Behring was a military physician. He is best known for contributions to the studies of immunity. This was aided by his discovery of a diphtheria toxin, in 1890, which laid the basis for the development of the first drug against diphtheria. The drug was the first serum therapy developed. He later went on to develop a serum therapy against tetanus. Von Behring shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1901 for the development of his serum therapies.1854-03-15T00:00:00+0000Fibiger published the first randomisation method for a clinical trial. The aim of the trial, conducted in 1898, was to investigate the effect of serum therapy on diphtheria. Fibiger would later go on to win the 1926 Nobel Prize for Medicine for demonstrating a roundworm could cause stomach cancer in rats and mice. Following his death researchers showed that the roundworm could not cause cancer and were due to vitamin deficiency and that Fibiger had mistakenly confused non-cancerous tumours for cancerous tumours in his experiments. 1867-04-23T00:00:00+0000Bordet was a Belgian physician, immunologist and microbiologist. He is best known for winning the 1919 Nobel Prize for his discovery of two components in the blood - antibodies and complement proteins - that help destroy invading bacteria. They do this by rupturing the cell walls of the bacteria, a process known as bacteriolysis. Bordet made the discovery in 1895. He subsequently found, in 1898, that red blood cells from one animal species injected into another get destroyed by haemolysis - a process analogous to bacteriolysis. His research laid the foundation for the development of diagnostic tests that looked for antibodies in the blood to detect infectious agents. The first one was for typhoid, developed in 1896.1870-06-13T00:00:00+0000Heidelberger was one of the founders of immunochemistrty, a branch of biochemistry that investigates the mammalian immune system at the molecular level. He first made his mark in 1923 when he found, with Oswald Avery, that that the immune system could target bacterial sugars. The two scientists made the discovery while investigating a capsular substance that envelops pneumococcus and other species of bacteria. Their work helped determine that antibodies were proteins. It also paved the way to improving the production of more effective serum therapies for the prevention of bacterial infectious diseases like pneumonia and meningitis. 1888-04-29T00:00:00+0000Jules Bordet, a Belgian immunologist and microbiologist, on the basis of experiments heating fresh serum containing antibacterial antibodies, detects the presence of a substance, initially called alexin or complement which appears to act as an accessory to antibodies, taking on the role of destroying antigens.1895-01-01T00:00:00+0000Antiserum preparted against human oesteogenic sarcoma in an ass and 2 dogs. Reported successful in treating 50 patients suffering from cancer of the stomach and chest wall. J Hericourt, C Richet, 'Traitement d'un cas de sarcome par la sarcome par la serotherapie', Seances Acad Sci, 120 (1895), 948-50.1895-01-01T00:00:00+0000Paul Ehrlich, a German scientist, proposes that all cells possess a wide variety of special receptors, or side chains, that function like gatekeepers or locks for each cell. This known as Ehrlich's side chain theory.1897-01-01T00:00:00+0000A virologist and physician, Burnet is best known for his discovery of acquired immunological tolerance and demonstrating how the body recognises the difference between self and non-self. Burnet shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1960 for this work. His research helped advance the development of vaccines, tissue transplantation, monoclonal antibodies and associated therapies. In addition, Burnett made significant contributions to the development of techniques to grow and study the influenza virus, including hemagglutination assays. Based on his study of the genetics of the virus he showed that the influenza virus recombined at a high frequency. 1899-09-03T00:00:00+0000Karl Landsteiner, Austrian scientist, observes a clumping effect when the blood of two people are mixed. On the basis of this he identifies three human blood groups A, B and O, which he labels as C. He also notes that blood transfusion between persons with the same blood group does not result in the destruction of blood cells, but occurs between persons of different blood groups.1900-01-01T00:00:00+0000Karl Landsteiner, devises a test for A, B and O blood groupings using antibodies.1901-01-01T00:00:00+0000Chase was an immunologist who in the early 1940s discovered that white blood cells trigger the immune response in the body confronting a foreign invader. His finding laid to rest the belief that antibodies by themselves could protect the body from allergies and pathogens. Chase also uncovered the second arm of the immune system, known as cell-mediated immunity, paving the way to the discovery of lymphocyte cells and B and T cells.1905-09-17T00:00:00+0000Reuben Ottenberg carries out the first successful blood transfusion using blood typing and cross-matching based on the use of antisera. 1907-01-01T00:00:00+0000Paul Ehrlich, German scientist, suggests that one day it will be possible to use antibodies as compounds to target disease.1909-01-01T00:00:00+0000Jerne shared the 1984 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'theories concerning the specificity in development and control of the immune system'. His work laid the foundation for the production of monoclonal antibodies. He was the founder and director of the Basel Institute of Immunology.1911-12-23T00:00:00+0000Ehrlich played a significant role in the development of the first serum therapy to combat diphtheria in the 1890s and devised methods for standardising therapeutic serums. In addition he invented staining techniques for distinguishing different types of blood cells which laid the foundation for diagnosing blood disorders. In 1900 he popularised the 'magic bullet' concept which promoted the idea of developing a drug capable of killing specific disease-causing microbes, like bacteria, without harming the body itself. Nine years later he succeeded in creating Salvasan, the first drug created to target a specific pathogen and the first effective medical treatment for syphilis. Ehrlich also coined the term 'antibody' and transformed understandings of how the immune system worked. In 1908 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine on the back of this work. Despite his groundbreaking research, Ehrlich struggled to get a permanent position because of his Jewish background.1915-08-20T00:00:00+0000A virologist, Koprowski invented the world's first effective live polio vaccine. This he did while at Lederle Laboratories. He developed the vaccine by attentuating the virus in brain cells of a cotton rat. He injected the vaccine into himself in January 1948. The vaccine had the advantage that it entered the intestinal tract directly and provided long-lasting immunity. With a decade the vaccine had been adopted on four continents. Koprowski went on to become the director of the Wistar Institute where in the 1960s he led efforts to improve the rabies vaccine. He subsequently became the first scientist, together with colleagues, to hold a patent for monoclonal antibodies. Born to Jewish parents, Koprowski was forced to flee Poland in 1939 after Germany invaded the country. 1916-12-05T00:00:00+0000Karl Landsteiner, Austrian-born American biologist and physician, shows the body capable of producing antibodies against synthetic antigens never encountered before.1917-01-01T00:00:00+0000von Behring was a German military physician. He is best known for contributions to the studies of immunity. This was aided by his discovery of a diphtheria toxin, in 1890, which laid the basis for the development of the first drug against diphtheria. The drug was the first serum therapy developed. He later went on to develop a serum therapy against tetanus. Von Behring shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1901 for the the development of his serum therapies1917-03-31T00:00:00+0000Porter was a biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1972 for helping to determine the chemical structure of antibodies. This was based on some experiments he carried out between 1949 and 1960 while based at St Mary's Medical School in London. He showed that antibodies have a Y-shaped structure, consisting of a large component that has no antigen-combining capacity, at the bottom, and two smaller fragments at the top which have active sites that bind to the antigen. Porter's understanding of the antibody structure and its implications for function opened up the way to the potential use of antibodies as therapeutics and vaccines.1917-10-08T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
14 Mar 1854Paul Ehrlich was born in Strehlen (now Strzelin), Prussia (now Poland)EhrlichStrehlen, PrussiaImmunology, Bacteriology, Antibodies
15 Mar 1854Emil Adolf von Behring was born in Hansdorf, Prussia (now Poland)von BehringHansdorf, Prussia (now Poland)Antibodies
23 Apr 1867Johannes A G Fibiger was born in Silkeborg, DenmarkFibigerSilkeborg, DenmarkAntibodies, Oncology, Clinical trial
13 Jun 1870Jules Bordet was born in Soignies, BelgiumBordetPasteur InstituteAntibodies, Immunology, Diagnostics
29 Apr 1888Michael Heidelberger was born in New York City, USAHeidelbergerRockefeller Institute, Columbia UniversityAntibodies, Immunology
1895Complement detected to be an accessory to antibodiesBordetPasteur InstituteAntibodies
1895Humans treated with antiserum prepared against human cancer. This established the principle of using serotherapy to fight cancerHericourt, RichetCollege de FranceImmunology, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology, Monoclonal antibodies
1897Antibody formation theoryEhrlich Antibodies
3 Sep 1899Frank Macfarlane Burnet born in Traralgon, Victoria, Australia BurnetWalter and Eliza Hall InstituteImmunology, Monoclonal antibodies, Transplantation
1900 - 1901Blood grouping observedLandsteinerUniversity of ViennaAntibodies
1901Blood groupings diagnostic developedLandsteinerUniversity of ViennaAntibodies
17 Sep 1905Merrill W Chase born in Providence, RI, USAChaseRockefeller UniversityAntibodies, Immunology
1907First successful blood transfusionOttenbergMount Sinai HospitalAntibodies
1909Antibodies put forward as potential 'magic bullets' for medicineEhrlichRoyal Institute of Experimental TherapyAntibodies
23 Dec 1911Niels K Jerne was born in London, United KingdomJerneBasel Institute for ImmunologyImmunology, Monoclonal antibodies
20 Aug 1915Paul Ehrlich diedEhrlichGoettingen UniversityAntibodies, Immunology, Bacteriology
5 Dec 1916Hilary Koprowski was born in Warsaw, PolandKoprowskiLederle Laboratories, Wistar InstituteVaccines, Monoclonal antibodies
1917Antibodies shown to form against synthetic antigens (foreign substances)LandsteinerWilhelminenspitalAntibodies
31 Mar 1917Emil Adolf von Behring diedvon Behring Antibodies
8 Oct 1917Rodney R Porter was born in Newton-le-Willows, United KingdomPorterOxford UniversityAntibodies, Monoclonal antibodies

14 Mar 1854

Paul Ehrlich was born in Strehlen (now Strzelin), Prussia (now Poland)

15 Mar 1854

Emil Adolf von Behring was born in Hansdorf, Prussia (now Poland)

23 Apr 1867

Johannes A G Fibiger was born in Silkeborg, Denmark

13 Jun 1870

Jules Bordet was born in Soignies, Belgium

29 Apr 1888

Michael Heidelberger was born in New York City, USA

1895

Complement detected to be an accessory to antibodies

1895

Humans treated with antiserum prepared against human cancer. This established the principle of using serotherapy to fight cancer

1897

Antibody formation theory

3 Sep 1899

Frank Macfarlane Burnet born in Traralgon, Victoria, Australia

1900 - 1901

Blood grouping observed

1901

Blood groupings diagnostic developed

17 Sep 1905

Merrill W Chase born in Providence, RI, USA

1907

First successful blood transfusion

1909

Antibodies put forward as potential 'magic bullets' for medicine

23 Dec 1911

Niels K Jerne was born in London, United Kingdom

20 Aug 1915

Paul Ehrlich died

5 Dec 1916

Hilary Koprowski was born in Warsaw, Poland

1917

Antibodies shown to form against synthetic antigens (foreign substances)

31 Mar 1917

Emil Adolf von Behring died

8 Oct 1917

Rodney R Porter was born in Newton-le-Willows, United Kingdom