Sunday, October 5, 2008

History of Immunology

History of Immunology
Ancient Times
Immunology studies the relationship between the body systems, pathogens, and immunity. Primitive man knew about disease and its ravages. The Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh (2000 B.C. – Mesopotamian hero) records the presence of pestilence and disease. The other writings from old dynasties of ancient Egypt, one finds even more descriptions of disease. They even can identify the disease. In those days, disease and pestilence was punishment rendering as a result of “bad deeds” or “evil thoughts”. Even in the Old Testament is filled with pestilence that God wrought upon those who “crossed” him. From these writings, it is equally apparent that man knew that once he had been afflicted with disease, if he survived, he was normally not able to contract it again.

In 430 B.C. Thucydides recorded that while the plaque was raging in Athens, the sick and dying would have received no attention had it not been for those individuals who had already contracted the disease and recovered and recognized their “immune” status. Beginning around 1000 A.D., the ancient Chinese practiced a form of immunization by inhaling dried powders derived from the crusts of smallpox lesions. Around the fifteenth century, a practice of applying powdered smallpox "crusts" and inserting them with a pin or “poking” device into the skin became commonplace. The process was referred to as variolation and became quite common in the Middle East. However, the primary intent of variolation was that of “preserving” the beauty of their daughters and no mention was made of saving lives.

Modern Times
In 1798, Edward Jenner inoculated a young man by named James Phipps with material obtained from a cowpox lesion. The results were conclusive but were met with great resistance by the Church.

It is the first demonstration of vaccination (smallpox vaccination). Jenner was a physician who practiced in the rural English countryside. As a country doctor, he was familiar with the region’s medical “old wives tales.” One of which was that milkmaids who had caught cowpox never became infected with the more serious smallpox. Jenner suspected there to be a connection between the fact that milkmaids were commonly known to get cowpox, but not smallpox. That’s why he decided to try this theory by pacing the scab from a cowpox lesion into a cut made in arm of a young man James Phipps.

In 1840 the first modern proposal of the germ theory of disease was proposed Jakob Henle. He was a German physician, pathologist and anatomist. He is credited with the discovery of the loop of Henle in the kidney.

Louis Pasteur played a pivotal role in the evolution of the science. While Pasteur's work at the Pasteur Institute in Paris was concerned with bacterial infectious disease, he was most concerned with the prevention of diseases that bacteria caused and how the human body was changed subsequent to infection so as to resist further insults. Louis Pasteur became the first experimental immunologist.

In 1900, Paul Ehrlich who was a German Scientist proposed antibody formation theory. Ehrlich predicted autoimmunity calling it “horror autotoxicus”. He is the one coined the term of “chemotherapy”.

Kendall A. Smith in 1983 discovered of the first interleukins 1 and 2.
History of Immunology

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