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+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 discovered that white blood cells trigger the immune response in the body confronting a foreign invader. He laid the foundation for 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' and laying the foundation for the production of monoclonal antibodies.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+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 shared the 1972 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the chemical structure of antibodies.'1917-10-08T00:00:00+0000Askonas co-developed one of the first systems for the cloning of antibody-forming B cells in vivo, some of the earliest monoclonal antibodies. She was also one of the first scientists to isolate and clone virus specific T lymphocytes, laying the foundation for defining different influenza sub-sets and improving vaccines. 1923-04-01T00:00:00+0000Lloyd Felton, a scientist, develops a precipitation technique for the isolation of pure antibodies as part of an effort to develop a therapy for pneumonia. 1926-01-01T00:00:00+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
1900 - 1901Blood grouping observedLandsteinerUniversity of ViennaAntibodies
1901Blood groupings diagnostic developedLandsteinerUniversity of ViennaAntibodies
17 Sep 1905Merrill W Chase born in Providence, RI, USAChaseRockefeller UniversityAntibodies
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
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
1 Apr 1923Brigitte Askonas was born in Vienna, AustriaAskonasViennaMonoclonal antibodies, Immunology
1926First pure antibody preparation madeFeltonHarvard UniversityAntibodies

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

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

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

1 Apr 1923

Brigitte Askonas was born in Vienna, Austria

1926

First pure antibody preparation made