By Magie W.F.
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2. The manifestations of disease appear at the moment when the antibodies formed in the organism begin to react with the causative foreign body. 3. 28 Von Pirquet’s theory was clearly outside the mainstream of pathological thinking at that time. In general, clinicians and pathologists construed disease as a product of the invasion of a host by a hostile agent and visualized the subsequent clinical course of disease in terms of a battle between external aggressors (bacteria and their toxins) and internal defence mechanisms (white blood cells and antibodies).
The aim of this chapter is to examine the origins of von Pirquet’s formulation of allergy in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century studies of idiosyncrasy and immunity, to analyse the immediate reception and modification of his provocative theories of biological reactivity, and to highlight the lasting impact of von Pirquet’s work on the subsequent history of allergy. Idiosyncrasy and immunity Strange and sometimes fatal reactions to foreign substances have been reported since antiquity.
The individual may perish, but this does not matter. The species must at all times retain its organic integrity. 112 Although Richet’s distinctive approach remained outside the mainstream of clinical and scientific writing on allergy and anaphylaxis, many of his ideas persisted, albeit in modified and attenuated forms. For example, his suggestion that the humoral personality comprised (like its psychological counterpart) a form of chemical memory, both of the evolution of the species and the history of the individual, was reformulated after the Second World War by leading immunologists and microbiologists such as Frank Macfarlane Burnet (1899–1985) and René Dubos.
A source book in physics by Magie W.F.