Conversation with Dr. Avery about separation of virus from antibody
Nobel Laureate F. Peyton Rous, who was a pioneer in research on the link between viruses and cancer, produced these notes
from a conversation with Avery. The two scientists exchanged ideas on how to separate the virus from the antibody, with Avery
suggesting to Rous that he read the papers of, or contact personally, several other scientists who worked on the subject.
These notes are a wonderful example of the cooperation and collaboration that often characterizes scientific research.
Item is a photocopy.
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1939-10-02 (October 2, 1939)
Avery, Oswald T.
Original Repository: American Philosophical Society. Library. Peyton Rous Papers
Reproduced with permission of the American Philosophical Society.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Shifting Focus: Early Work on Bacterial Transformation, 1928-1940
American Philosophical Society Library. Permission necessary for reproduction.
Oct. 2, 1939
If the antibody is a globulin and the virus a nucleoprotein, as there is good reason to suppose, it might be possible to separate
them by taking advantage of their differing solubilities and resistance to changes in pH. Heating will not help since globulin
is not denatured until a temperature of 60 degrees C. or more is reached. If the virus will stand 5 or 10 per cent sodium
chloride, then it might be possible by using such solutions to separate it from antibody. There are papers by Heidelberger,
written within the last two or three years, on the separation of antigen and antibody, these being the most recent papers
of which Avery knows.
I suggested that it might be better to attempt the separation of antigen and antibody before they ever became combined, that
is to say, by the use of living tumor tissue ground up in this solvent or that which might conceivably leave either antigen
or antibody behind. Avery thought well of this possibility.
I spoke of the possible liberation of virus by an enzyme procured from the pneumococcus (N.B.--See Claude about this in relation
to the paper given at the Cancer Congress.). Avery said that this pneumococcus would dissolve the polysaccharide found in
the umbilical cord and certain other polysaccharides which are not ordinarily soluble. He said that there are papers by Dawson
and Myer on the subject and that Dubos would know of it. He also remarked that the denaturation of immune globulin should