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The Michael Heidelberger Papers

Letter from Michael Heidelberger to Enrique E. Ecker, Western Reserve University pdf (80,862 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Michael Heidelberger to Enrique E. Ecker, Western Reserve University
In this letter, Heidelberger proposed a uniform terminology for the young field of complement research, a field Heidelberger helped found during the late 1930s and early 1940s by proving that complement was made up of a group of specific chemical substances that could be isolated in the laboratory. Subsequent research has shown that complement is a complex system of over twenty serum proteins that after activation play an essential enzymatic role in host defense mechanisms against invading microorganisms, namely in the promotion of inflammation, phagocytosis (the engulfing of invading organisms by immune cells), and lysis (the breaking up of such organisms).
Number of Image Pages:
1 (80,862 Bytes)
1941-04-03 (April 3, 1941)
Heidelberger, Michael
Ecker, Enrique E.
[Western Reserve University. Institute of Pathology]
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Complement System Proteins
Exhibit Category:
Antigens and Antibodies: Heidelberger and The Rise of Quantitative Immunochemistry, 1928-1954
Metadata Record Letter from Enrique E. Ecker, Western Reserve University to Michael Heidelberger (April 5, 1941) pdf (76,319 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Box Number: 2
Folder Number: 17
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Folder: MS C 245 (first finding aid)
April 3, 1941.
Dear Enrique:
As a result of conversation with you and Pillemer, it is evident that we are in a position to dictate complement nomenclature, Sherman Act or no Sherman Act. We have been mulling over things since your stimulating paper was given and are inclined to agree with Pillemer's proposal to use C' as a symbol for complement, C to be reserved for bacterial somatic specific Carbohydrates and S for Soluble Specific Substance, or capsular polysaccharides.
Then erstwhile "midpiece" = C'1
" "endpiece" = C'2
3" component = C'3
and 4" " = C'4
Inactivated complement = iC', small i being less easy to confuse with Roman I.
Inactivated "midpiece" = iC'1
" "endpiece" = iC'2, etc
What I have called complement combining component (or components)", or Cm, would then be C'1, C'1, '4, C'4,1 depending on the outcome of your further studies.
I am particularly anxious to come to an agreement on this because I would like to recall the two quantitative papers I now have in press before they reach the printer, in order to make the above changes in lettering and put in a footnote saying it is in agreement with your group. In the normal course of events the papers should be finished with the editorial mill in a few days. Then if, in your papers, the same terminology is used, it should be comprehensible to all and soon become established. So please let me know as soon as possible.
You and Pillemer contributed greatly to the success of the Conference and it was fine to see you again, too.
Hoping the work will prosper, and with cordial greetings,
Michael Heidelberger.
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