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September 28, 1918


JAMA. 1918;71(13):1061. doi:10.1001/jama.1918.02600390045016

Ehrlich's hypothesis that an antitoxin consists of "cell receptors" that have been produced in excess and secreted by body cells into the blood has doubtless been a helpful conception stimulating pathologists or immunologists—as the specialists are now designated—in the investigation of immune serums. To the chemically trained mind, however, it falls far short of suggesting something definite or tangible and in any way comparable with the more familiar compounds that are known to play some part in biologic processes. The fact that the neutralization or detoxication of toxin with antitoxin can be carried out quantitatively in a beaker as well as in the body is an indication that specific substances are involved in such reactions. According to Arrhenius, the interaction of toxin and antitoxin is accompanied by a liberation of heat much as is the action between strong acids and bases.1 The concurrence of opinion further opposes the idea