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August 24, 1901


JAMA. 1901;XXXVII(8):516-517. doi:10.1001/jama.1901.02470340034002

The modern teachings in immunity distinguish clearly between antitoxic and bactericidal actions. Antitoxins render the toxins harmless by continuing with them, but have no influence upon the corresponding bacteria, whereas bactericidal substances destroy living bacteria without affecting the toxins of the latter. By combining with the toxin the antitoxin prevents the toxin from uniting with those cells in the body for which it is poisonous. By experiment Ehrlich and his pupils have shown that toxins have at least two groups or chains of molecules, one toxophorous which carries the active toxin, and one haptophorous which has a high degree of affinity for the antitoxin and also for certain animal cells. According to Ehrlich's lateral chain theory of antitoxic immunity and healing, the antitoxins of the serum of immune organisms are simply molecular groups, loosened from the cells, and endowed with affinity for the haptophorous group of the corresponding toxin. Hence,