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Pre-molecular immunology: The dawn of mechanism 

Pre-molecular immunology: The dawn of mechanism
Pre-molecular immunology: The dawn of mechanism

Anthony Rees

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date: 22 October 2020

Early hypotheses, hotly debated and often reduced to ridicule, on the role of cells in immunity and inflammation appeared at the end of the nineteenth century with the work of Metchnikoff and Schwann. The important observations of von Behring, Kitasato, and Pasteur that protective effects could be induced by cell-free serum from immunized animals were revolutionary while the rising immunology star, Paul Ehrlich, developed the first ‘primitive molecular’ theory of antibody (antitoxin) formation and action. In doing so Ehrlich came up against the might of the chemistry establishment and even his own medical contemporaries during this turbulent and contentious early-twentieth-century period.

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