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March 1, 1930


JAMA. 1930;94(9):636-637. doi:10.1001/jama.1930.02710350036011

The most spectacular clinical victories of the last half century have been in the field of applied immunology. What other medical triumphs of this period rival the therapeutic miracle of diphtheria antitoxin; what diagnostic success has been greater than the Widal reaction; what surgical procedure is more justified than human blood transfusion? These successes justify the belief that mastery of fundamental immunologic facts will yield in time complete control of all processes of infection, but there is convincing evidence to indicate that at best current immunologic knowledge is lamentably inadequate1 and that currently accepted basic immunologic theories are of questionable validity.

Modern immunology began with Pasteur (1880), who noted that test-tube cultures of micro-organisms are generally short lived. This he assumed to be due to an exhaustion of suitable food material. Transferring this starvation theory to the human body, Pasteur pictured convalescent immunity as the result of microbic exhaustion

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