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September 18, 1909


Author Affiliations

Consulting Physician at the Columbus Hospital; Instructor of Neurology at the New York Polyclinic; Attending Neurologist at the German Dispensary NEW YORK

JAMA. 1909;LIII(12):936-943. doi:10.1001/jama.1909.92550120001001i

The difference between a normal and a specific serum in the Wassermann reaction is only quantitative, the reaction being provoked by the presence in the blood serum and cerebrospinal fluid of colloidal elements of histogenic and not bacteriogenic origin.

The researches made on the syphilitic serums have proved that the substances to which the syphilitic serums owe their specific property are equally soluble in diluted alcohol. In fact, the alcoholic extracts of the serums contain salts and lipoid substances which either alone or in presence of the extract of liver prevent hemolysis and give a positive reaction. That would prove that the Wassermann reaction is due to the action of lipoid and salts contained in the liver extract on the lipoid and salts contained in the syphilitic serums.

I suppose that if it were possible to make the Wassermann reaction so sensitive that we could thereby detect any trace of