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Article
February 4, 1911

THE INFLUENCE OF THE PRINCIPLE OF SPECIFICITY ON MODERN MEDICINE

JAMA. 1911;LVI(5):352-353. doi:10.1001/jama.1911.02560050038019
Abstract

The term "specificity" has come into such every-day use that we are in danger of losing sight of its broader significance among the countless special points of application which are closer to our eyes. It is the opinion of Wassermann, expressed in a recent address on this subject,1 that it is recognition and investigation of this fundamental biologic principle which characterize the present era of medical science and to which its progress is most largely due. We owe to Robert Koch its first definite statement, in the declaration that every infectious disease is caused by a definite agent, and that this agent is found always in that special disease, and that no other disease is produced by that agent; in other words, the causal organism is specific for the disease. The next step came with von Behring's discovery that in response to invasion by the bacteria or their poisons

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