In this letter Hershey replied to Heidelberger's critical comments regarding Hershey's efforts to use bacteriophages,
viruses that infect bacteria, to study the kinetics--the rate and mechanisms--of immune reactions. Hershey also discussed
emerging conceptions of antibody heterogeneity, the idea that the multiple chemical bonds established by multivalent antibodies
with two or more antigens are formed at different rates.
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1941-05-01 (May 1, 1941)
Hershey, A. D.
Washington University School of Medicine
Courtesy of Michael Heidelberger.
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Antigens and Antibodies: Heidelberger and The Rise of Quantitative Immunochemistry, 1928-1954
Letter from A. D. Hershey to Michael Heidelberger [10 April 1941]
Letter from Michael Heidelberger to A. D. Hershey (April 28, 1941)
Thank you very much for the care you have taken in criticism of my treatment of the kinetics of antigen-antibody reactions.
Needless to say this is exactly what I hoped you would do.
I would scarcely care to defend our rate measurements at the present time, but on the other hand I do not feel that our results
are incompatible with yours.
So far as heterogeneity of antibody is concerned, I should have been more explicit in the statement of my conclusion. This
was not intended to imply that the antibody fractions of different reactivity, which you have demonstrated, may not also differ
in reaction rate and accordingly introduce an uncertain error. Rather, I was considering the possibility that different antibody
molecules might be directed toward distinctly different determinant groups which, if it exists, should introduce an enormous
steric factor into the reaction rate. This would be the kind of "heterogeneity" under discussion between Landsteiner
(J. Exp. Med., 1936, 63, 325) and Hooker and Boyd (J. Immunol., 1936, 30, 41). Obviously any decision concerning this based
on reaction rates would be of the crudest kind.
Thank you again, and you may be sure your suggestions will be put to use in future experiments.