Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/100

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96
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

various recent methods of treatment, such as Röntgen rays, Finsen's light, radium and Bier's passive hyperæmia. The ideal treatment, however, of bacterial disease is to put into the blood a substance, like an antiseptic, which will kill the bacteria or neutralize their toxines, but which will not injure the tissues with which it is brought in contact. This has been done to a certain extent by the antitoxin of diphtheria, but there has not been discovered, up to the present time, a scientific and exact method by means of which the therapeutic use of such agents as tuberculin could be controlled in order that the smallest amount of detriment possible might ensue to the patient during the course of the treatment. That there exists a certain substance in the serum of the blood which is capable of aiding phagocytosis, is shown by the history of a case cited by Wright in which there was a condition of furunculosis (boils) due to staphylococci. The patient's serum, his corpuscles and an emulsification of dead staphylococci gave a count of 26; while the patient's serum, the corpuscles from a normal person and the emulsion, gave 27; the normal serum, the normal corpuscles and the emulsion, gave 13; the normal serum, the patient's corpuscles and the emulsion also giving 13. This would show that the corpuscular elements had nothing to do with the increased number of staphylococci which were taken up by the leucocytes and would show that the property of increasing the nrmber of staphylococci in the leucocytes is to be attributed to the so-called opsonin in the serum itself. By using this index after the injection of the vaccine, it will be seen that there is usually a slight decrease in the opsonic index, followed by a marked secondary rise; though if the dose be too large or a second dose be administered too quickly, this secondary rise may not occur at all. The interesting fact was brought out by Wright in his lectures that a surgical operation, or even massage, or sitting up in bed, may cause a similar reaction in a tuberculous foci. The disadvantage of securing the reaction by these methods is that live tubercle bacilli may be introduced into the blood stream and that their lodgment and subsequent multiplication may take place. Dr. Wright is so sanguine of the success of this mode of treatment that he believes that every case of localized tuberculosis may be now cured by the proper use of the vaccines of tuberculosis.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS

A meeting to commemorate the life and service of Samuel Pierpont Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution from 1887 to 1906, was held in the lecture room of the United States National Museum on December 3. The following addresses were delivered: 'Introductory Remarks,' by the chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution, the Honorable Melville W. Fuller, chief justice of the United States; 'Memorial on Behalf of the Board of Regents,' by the Honorable Andrew D. White, LL.D.; 'Mr. Langley's Contributions to Astronomy and Astrophysics,' by Professor E. C. Pickering, director of the Harvard College Observatory; 'Mr. Langley's Contributions to Aerodynamics,' by Octave Chanute, Esq., of Chicago.

Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, Da Costa professor of zoology in Columbia University, curator of vertebrate paleontology and vice-president of the American Museum of Natural History, geologist and paleontologist of the U. S. Geological Survey, has declined the secretaryship of the Smithsonian Institution to which he was elected by the regents on December 4.—Dr. Andrew Fleming West, professor of Latin at Princeton University and dean of the graduate school, has declined the olfer of the executive committee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to nominate him for the presidency.