William C. Boyd.
Perhaps a list of his partial accomplishments will demonstrate:
- Boyd wrote the first textbook of immunology.
- Boyd discovered the blood type specificity of many lectins.
- Boyd coined the word 'lectin.'
- He was one of the first 'paleoserologists', using lectins to trace the blood type distributions of many populations around the world. Boyd was the first to document that blood group substances could be recovered intact from physical remains of graves, such as from mummies.
- With Isaac Asimov, he wrote a book for the general public which was one of the first to attack the notion that race was a scientific fact.
- He developed antibody techniques, such as precipitation and flocculation, and applied them to blood group serology.
- He was among the first researchers to recommend the use of magnesium salts in the immediate aftermath of heart attack.
- Boyd wrote some pretty good science fiction (under the name "Boyd Ellanby" ).
Every time I venture into something, be it ABO blood group immunology, lectins in foods, anthropology, and a slew of immunology techniques, this guy was there first. It's a pity nobody really knows about him.
Best serologist, ever.
Stay tuned for a major announcement concerning IfHI 2007:
We have just received confirmation that one of our featured speakers will be Professor of Medicine Gerhard Uhlenbruck from the University of Cologne. Dr. Uhlenbruck will be joining an international faculty of experts including Dr. William Mitchell (Washington, USA), Dr. Thomas Greenfield (Kent, UK), Dr. Walter Crinnion (Arizona, USA), Dr. Emily Kane (Alaska, USA), Dina Khader (New York, USA), Dr. Erika Klus (Minnesota, US), Dr. David Bove (Oregon, USA) and myself.
Dr. Uhlenbruck is a legendary figure in lectin and blood group research. His seminal work has led to the discovery of new and novel lectins (such as peanut agglutinin) and the characterisation of lectin activities and antigen specificities (the chemical structure of T antigen was established in 1969 by Prof. Uhlenbruck and his colleagues). You can not read any modern textbook on lectinology or immunology without encountering Dr. Uhlenbruck's research legacy.
(photo from 'Lectins", Second Edition, by Sharon and Lis.
"From Fast Food to Fast Feet and from General Feeding to Individual Food."
You will not want to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to meet such an important figure. Thanks to IfHI fellows Cocky van Hesteren and Isa-Manuela Albrecht for initiating the the European contact and to Martha D'Adamo and Carol Agostino for the follow-up.
We now have the full IfHI 2007 conference website up and functional. However, we are probably close to half-booked to capacity, so if you didn't add your name to the preregistration list and you are planning to attend, you probably should think about registering ASAP.
I like to read history and I'm fascinated by immunology, so how cool is it when you get a book as a gift entitled The History of Immunology?
Arthur M. Silverstein's meaty little volume for Academic Press (1989) does a very nice job of taking the reader through the myriad of ancient, medieval and renaissance concepts of immunity, including the Hippocratic and Aristocratic 'humors'; the very astute observations about smallpox by the Islamic physician Rhazes; iatrophysics and much more. I was surprised to discover that Cotton Mather, well know inquisitor of witchcraft in colonial New England, was an avid reader of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London and very much up to date with Jenner's discoveries about the ability to immunize against smallpox with the milder cow pox organism.
On Rhazes' observations, it's surprising (if still largely unknown) that the 9th and 10th century Muslim world was the scientific powerhouse of the day, producing profound discoveries in anatomy, pharmacology and physiology (often in concert and synergy with Jewish intellectuals) at a time when Northern Europeans were still crouched around smokey fires in mud hovels. Hopefully, one of these days, the current anti-intellectualism fad will give way to a reawakening of these latent talents.
And finally, how the debates between the 'cellularists' and the 'humorists' divided along nationality (French versus German) in the quiescent period between France's humiliation at the end of the Franco-Prussian War and their repayment of the favor in 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles. "It is worth noting", wrote Otto von Bismarck after the Franco-Prussion War, "That a generation that receives a beating is almost always followed by a generation that gives one."
A fact seemingly lost on many of today's political leaders..
The German camp, led by such famous scientists as Robert Koch and Rudolph Virchow, favored the 'cellular' theory i.e, the white blood cells munch up all the bad guys. Their observations eventually became the basis of Cell Mediated Immunity The 'humorists', mostly French and led by Metchnikoff and Pasteur, viewed the serum factors as being decisive, and their observations eventually became the basic of Humoral Immunity.
So they were both right.
Yet it tells much about the respective variations in national conciousness at the time. The Germans tended to view the immunological battle field as a mano-a-mano 'Test Of Will'. Us against them. The inevitable struggle. The more policemen the better. The French, on the other hand, tended to see things in terms of milieu: fixable with a change of wallpaper or a fresh coat of paint.
There are many more arguments ahead in upcoming chapters; for example whether antibodies bound one antigen (monovalent) or two (bivalent). These guys almost always had 3-4 different possible ways something could happen, and definitely enjoyed tearing into each other!
Sort of like Vanity Fair for the Nobel Prize set.
The last week has been quite hot and humid over here at D'Adamo World Headquarters. We've finally put in a â€˜deer-proof' fence around a bit of the property, so for the first time since we've moved here (perhaps a decade or so) I can plunk in a few plants and not be forced to view a scene of desolation and carnage the next morning. Apparently from a low of 27 in 1939, the number of deer in Connecticut has now risen to somewhere between one and two million, which is not surprising considering that their natural predator, the wolf, is long gone and the state is full of yummy suburban yards full of tasty treats.
We've put in a variety of things, which I hope to add to over the season. One plant I always try to use is Baptisia tinctoralis (Wild Indigo) which grows well, if slowly in these parts. Baptisia has always interested me in a medical manner, having many immuno-stimulatory polysaccharides, and a few fascinating alkaloids as well. It is one of the few natural products that are known to stimulate the anti-T (Thomsen-Freidenreich) antibody, which may help explain its long use in traditional medicine for the treatment of cancer.
Interestingly, Georg Springer's anti-T vaccine was partly composed of the typhoid vaccine; he felt that it amplified the effect of the other components. Baptisia has a long history of use by many cultures for treating typhoid fever.
The British Naturopathic Association had an editorial on the Blood Type Diet Theory. You can read it here, including an afterpiece by Tom Greenfield. The article is pretty flaccid and tries to be humorous, but I wonder about the appropriateness of editorializing about â€˜things' in a medical journal. Typically, medical journals editorialize about the results of research included in that issue, and often only to speculate on what further conclusions may be drawn from it. The major gripe the author seems to have is that Red Clover, another plant I'm going to plunk in my garden, is an â€˜avoid' for everyone. But that is only to keep it out of the hands of people who don't know how to use it. Hey guys! Knock! Knock!
However, I do think that the British naturopaths (by-and-large) â€˜get it' when it comes to the essence of what all this â€˜polymorphism stuff' means to the practitioner. A lot of the US naturopaths are still incredulous that one of their number could possibly come up with a discovery --the significance of which, if correct-- would have wide and far-reaching implications. Others think everyone should just be vegan and that would solve everything.
Typically when it arrives, like all medical folk, they then trip over themselves so as to not be â€˜the last.'
As I wrote on the Forums, a lot of ND's have the opposite of the â€˜not invented here syndrome,' which is the â€˜I can't believe it was invented here syndrome.'
In both cases, considering the enormous amount of woo-hoo, mumbo-jumbo fantasy that masquerades for â€˜cutting edge' alternative treatments and devices (if my office mail slot is to be believed) it certainly can't be the lack of science that is holding them back. If ideas, as Schopenhauer observed, do go through three phases (ridicule, rejection, acceptance) then we've still got some time. Unfortunately, often by the time you get to the â€˜acceptance' stage, all the fun has been sucked out of things.
Research-wise, this has been a busy week.
Traded emails with Dr. Linda Kim, whose with the Southwest College Research Department over the last two weeks. The microbial adhesion study and the clinical trial of blood type and endothelial dysfunction are on schedule and within budget. Enrollment will be completed for the clinical trial by 7/31 and experiments completed for the adhesion study by 9/30.
Had a wonderful meeting with Dr. Carlo Calabrese and Dr. Heather Zwickey over at the Helfgott Research Institute, which is associated with the National College of Naturopathic Medicine. We're hoping to develop a series of studies that can test the BTD across a variety of conditions and parameters. What is great about working with Carlo --whom I've know for decades-- is that he attracts the very best thinkers, and so much of the work with blood groups (which are really genes when you think of it) is high level math and statistics, and area in which I am not all that muscular.
Someone wrote me that the BTD was discussed in a book called "The Chemistry of Joyâ€?. I've not heard of it, but it's got a heck of a title.
Unless you happen to be named Joy.