Letter from Michael Heidelberger to C. W. Shilling, United States Department of the Navy
Heidelberger spent six weeks in India in early 1952 as a delegate to the Indian Science Congress, held in Calcutta. While
there he seized the opportunity to study the immunological properties of elephants, an idea first proposed, half jokingly,
by Oswald Avery when he had become frustrated with the small amounts of antiserum produced by rabbits, the standard experimental
animal in immunology. Heidelberger injected human gamma globulin into the ear vein of a work elephant, and found that the
animal was indeed a good producer of antiserum to the gamma globulin.
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1952-02-11 (February 11, 1952)
Shilling, C. W.
United States Department of the Navy
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Antigens and Antibodies: Heidelberger and The Rise of Quantitative Immunochemistry, 1928-1954
Letter from M. V. Lakshminarayan Rao, Central Food Technological Research Institute (Mysore, India) to Michael Heidelberger
(August 13, 1953)
[Michael Heidelberger with delegates at the Indian Science Congress in Calcutta, India] [January 1952]
I was able to take the 500 grams of lyophilized human gamma globulin safely to India. It went into solution beautifully,
and two 5 gram portions were duly injected into two elephants.
Unfortunately, I was not able to stay long enough for the initial immune bleedings, but left precise directions as to how
the tests for precipitin should be made, and I hope the elephants do their duty!
These tests, and several other lines of work which I started on elephants aroused a great deal of interest and I think the
use of the elephant in immunological studies is assured.
Thanking you again for your generous cooperation, and with kindest regards,