Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/233

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229
IMMUNITY IN TUBERCULOSIS
IMMUNITY IN TUBERCULOSIS[1]
By SIMON FLEXNER, M. D.
ROCKEFELLER INSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH, NEW YORK CITY

I CAN not begin this address without delaying a moment to testify to my sense of the great honor which has been conferred upon me by your invitation. Neither can I proceed with it until I have expressed to you my conviction that there are persons present in this audience whose scientific work on tuberculosis makes them far abler than I to discuss the complex problem of immunity in tuberculosis. My work in bacteriology in the past has not led me to an especial consideration of the highly important problem of the prevention and cure of tuberculosis, and I can therefore account in no other way for my selection to address you this evening than that you desired this topic presented to you from the point of view of one who has done some work in the general field of bacteriology.

The modern study of tuberculosis, as you know, begins with the generation which immediately preceded the epoch-making discoveries of Koch. It may, I think, be said with justice that this study was inaugurated by the first purposeful transmission by inoculation of the disease from animal to animal. For whatever may have been the speculations upon the infectious and transmissible character of the disease before this demonstration, yet the demonstration was necessary before further steps in the elucidation of the cause and prevention of the disease could be taken. Koch in his masterful monograph gives the credit of successful inoculation to Klencke, who in the year 1843 succeeded in inducing an extensive tuberculosis of the lungs and liver in rabbits by inoculation with portions of miliary and infiltrating tubercles from man. Klencke, after accomplishing this result, did not continue his investigations and they were consequently soon forgotten. In the meantime Villemin's experimental investigations were begun and pursued to a successful termination. He inoculated not only with tubercular material from human beings, but also from cases of bovine tuberculosis, and he seemed to have proved experimentally the identity of the latter disease with human tuberculosis. Villemin's researches, from the number of his experiments, the careful manner in which they were carried out and the employment of suitable control experiments,

  1. Address delivered at the joint meeting of the Association of American Physicians and the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, held at Washington. D. C, May 16, 1906.