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July 9, 1960


JAMA. 1960;173(10):1143. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03020280083021

In 1845, Bence Jones observed a heavy precipitate form when he boiled the urine of a patient suffering from softening and brittleness of the bones. To his surprise, the precipitate completely dissolved after the addition of nitric acid, then returned when the urine was cooled, and when boiled again, it reliquefied.1

This remarkable protein has since been studied by numerous investigators. As defined today, Bence Jones protein precipitates at a temperature between 45 and 60 C and dissolves at 100 C. The Danish investigators, Effersøe and Tidstrøm, published a salt precipitation test,2 in which each of two samples of urine from a patient with myeloma is mixed with a different amount of 3.5 M potassium phosphate solution until, in one tube, a 70% concentration of potassium phosphate is produced, whereas, in the other tube, a 90% concentration is present. If a heavier precipitate occurs in the first tube than