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May 27, 1939


JAMA. 1939;112(21):2156. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800210050015

The isolation of a soil bacillus capable of destroying gram-positive micro-organisms in the animal body seems to offer an encouraging lead toward a new therapeutic procedure. About ten years ago Dubos1 of the Rockefeller Institute began a systematic search for environmental saprophytes. His initial attempt sought some nonpathogenic fungi or bacteria which could use the type-specific capsular polysaccharide of the pneumococcus. Finally from certain peat soils a saprophytic bacillus was isolated which was apparently able to decapsulate type III pneumococci in vitro. Enzymes isolated from this bacillus, however, were inactive against other types of pneumococcus and did not have any effect on nonpneumococcic polysaccharides. Dubos found that this saprophytic enzyme would protect mice against type III pneumococcus infections but was without general pneumococcidal action. Moreover, even though the enzyme did decapsulate type III pneumococci it did not demonstrably injure the living portion of the bacterial cell.

Dubos2 therefore