Timeline of immunology

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This is a timeline of immunology, attempting to describe important events in the development of the field. For a more focus on vaccines, visit Timeline of vaccines.

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Time period Development summary
18th century The early century sees interest in acquired immunity through the use of variolation as a prophylactic measure, whereby live virus is taken from a diseased smallpox victim and used as inoculum.[1]
19th century The modern era of immunization starts with the pioneering work of Edward Jenner, who discovers in 1796 that cowpox, or vaccinia, induces protection against human smallpox.[2] The century sees developments in immunology that include the recognition of phagocytosis and also mast cells.[1] 1884, Élie Metchnikoff proposes the cellular theory of immunology.[1] In the 1880s, Louis Pasteur devises a vaccine against cholera in chickens, and develops a rabies vaccine that proves a spectacular success upon its first trial in a boy bitten by a rabid dog. In 1890, Emil von Behring and Kitasato Shibasaburō discover that the serum of vaccinated individuals contain substances—which they call antibodies—that specifically bound to the relevant pathogen.[2]
20th century At the beginning of the 20th century, immunology remains a young discipline, with the humoral theory of immunity having strong influence, with long term implications for future immunological developments. In the 1950s, the idea of cell-mediated immunity is accepted and cellular immunity develops.[1] In the 1980s, scientists begin the rapid identification of genes for immune cells that continues to the present.[3]
21st century Today, immunology spreads across many biological disciplines. The most important areas of immunology currently include new strategies for vaccines and studies of regulatory T lymphocytes and the innate immune response. Fast-paced changes in immunology are also seen in pharmaceuticals.[4]

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Country/region
430 BC Intimations already suggest that if one survives a disease, the person thereafter becomes "immune" to any subsequent exposures.[3]
c.980 – 1037 Scientific development Persian polymath Avicenna proposes a theory for acquired immunity.[1]
1546 Scientific development Italian physician Girolamo Fracastoro proposes that epidemic disease is caused by transferable seed-like entities that are capable of transmitting infection by direct or indirect contact or without contact over long distances. Fracastoro also applies this theory to smallpox and acquired immunity, although he wrongly believes that this immunity protects against infection by other diseases, such as measles.[1] Italy
1700 Medical development A procedure for immunization becomes established in China. The technique is called variolation, derived from the name of the infective agent—the variola virus.[3] China
1798 Medical development English physician Edward Jenner pioneers smallpox vaccination.[3][5][6][7]
1840 Scientific development German physician Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle proposes a germ theory of disease.[8][9][10]
1862 Scientific development German biologist Ernst Haeckel recognizes phagocytosis.[6][7] Germany
1874 Scientific development German chemist Moritz Traube and Richard Gscheidlen inject micro-organisms into the blood and find that micro-organisms are rapidly destroyed and bloodstream maintain its sterility.[6] Germany
1877 Scientific development German Jewish physician Paul Ehrlich first describes mast cells.[11][3][6][7]
1883 Scientific development Russian zoologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov theorizes that cells are involved in the defense of the body. Metchnikoff introduces the concept of cell-mediated or cellular immunity.[3][5][12][7]
1884 Scientific development W. Grohmann notes that cell-free serum is capable of killing microorganism in vitro.[6]
1888 Scientific development French bacteriologists Pierre Paul Émile Roux and Alexandre Yersin discover bacterial toxin, by isolating a toxin secreted by corynebacterium diphtheriae and showing that the toxin—and not the microorganism—gives rise to the symptoms of diphteria.[13][6][7] France
1888 Scientific development American-British bacteriologist George Nuttall inoculates defibrinated blood with bacteria and shows that outside the body, serum retains its bactericidal activity.[6][7]
1889 Scientific development German bacteriologist Hans Ernst August Buchner first identifies a principle in fresh blood that he terms as "alexin" and is capable of killing bacteria.[6]
1889 Scientific development German bacteriologist Richard Friedrich Johannes Pfeiffer conducts a series of experiments that allow the understanding of bactericidal action of serum.[6] Germany
1891 Scientific development Robert Koch discovers delayed type hypersensitivity.[3][5][7]
1894 Scientific development Richard Pfeiffer discovers the phenomenon of bacteriolysis.[7]
1900 Scientific development Paul Ehrlich theorizes about some of the events taking place in immune cells, postulating that cells interact with toxins via "side chains" that stem from protoplasm.[6][7]
1900 Scientific development Austrian biologist Karl Landsteiner discovers ABO blood group system.[6]
1902 Scientific development Charles Richet coins the term anaphylaxis to describe the most dangerous allergic reaction.[5][6][7]
1903 Scientific development British bacteriologists Almroth Wright and Stewart Douglas discover opsonins.[14][15][7] United Kingdom
1904 Scientific development Julius Donath and Karl Landsteiner describe the role of antiself red blood cell antibodies in the pathogenesis of paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria.[16]
1906 Scientific development Austrian scientist Clemens von Pirquet coins the term allergy.[3][5][6][7]
1907 Scientific development Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius coins the term immunochemistry.[5][6]
1910 Scientific development English pharmacologist Henry Hallett Dale identifies histamine, a body chemical responsible for many allergic reactions.[17][18] United Kingdom
1910 Scientific development Peyton Rous develops his viral immunology theory.[7]
1915 Journal The Journal of Immunology is first published by The American Association of Immunologists.[19] United States
1916 Medical development American immunologist Robert Cooke and Albert Vander Veer report having successfully immunized patients allergic to a variety of grasses, including orchard grass, June grass, and sweet vernal grass.[20] United States
1917 Scientific development Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner publishes results of an exhaustive study of haptens, contributing greatly to the knowledge of antigen-antibody reactions.[21][22][23][24][6][7]
1921 Scientific development Carl Prausnitz and Heinz Küstner discover that components in the blood can reproduce food allergy reactions.[5][6]
1924 Scientific development Ludwig Aschoff adopts the term reticuloendothelial system (RES).[6][25][26][7]
1926 Scientific development American bacteriologist Lloyd D. Felton isolates pure antibody preparation.[6]
1930 Scientific development Elvin Kabat for the first time reports that gamma globulin, also called immunoglobulin, of serum acts as an active component and is mainly responsible for immunological activity after infection.[6][12]
1930 Scientific development Friedrich Breinl and Felix Haurowitz propose the instructional theory, based on the protein folding hypothesis. According to this theory, the specificity of the antibody is determined by the antigen that provides a template to fold the antibody around itself.[12]
1934 Scientific development British pathologist John Marrack advances the antigen-antibody binding hypothesis.[6]
1936 Scientific development British immunologist Peter Alfred Gorer identifies the H-2 antigen in mice.[6]
1937 Scientific development Italian pharmacologist Daniel Bovet, working at Pasteur Institute, becomes the first to describe the activity of antihistamines.[27][28][29][30] France
1938 Scientific development John Marrack expounds the antigen-antibody binding hypothesis.[31][3]
1940 Scientific development Austrian biologist Karl Landsteiner and American scientist Alexander S. Weiner identify Rh antigens.[6]
1940 Scientific development Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov's hypothesis that the main cause of immunity in the immunized animals is active cells rather than the serum components is strengthened by the experimental proof given by Merrill Chase.[12]
1941 Scientific development American immunologist Albert Coons initiates a major revolution in immunology and cell biology for developing a technique for labeling specific antibodies with fluorescent dyes.[32] Coons and his collaborators first describe the possible use of fluorescent antibody for the detection of antigens in situ.[33][34]
1942 Scientific development Hungarian born American immunologist Jules Freund and Katherine McDermott publish a paper on their experiments on immunization of guinea pigs with horse serum containing killed tubercle bacilli and adjuvant.[35] Their paper is generally considered to be a landmark in immunology.[36][3]
1943 Journal The monthly peer-reviewed medical journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is established.[37] United States
1944 Scientific development British biologist Peter Medawar develops the immunological hypothesis of allograft rejection.[3]
1948 Scientific development Astrid Fagraeus demonstrates the production of antibodies in plasma B cells.[3]
1948 Scientific development George Snell develops congenic strains of mice.[38][3][39]
1949 Scientific development Australian scientists Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Frank Fenner hypothesize that developing antigen-reactive cells are susceptible to tolerance induction.[16][40][3] Australia
1949 – 1957 Scientific development British biologist Peter Medawar and Frank Macfarlane Burnet discover how the immune system rejects or accepts organ transplantation, and develop the immunological tolerance hypothesis, which is created as a platform for developing methods of transplanting solid organs.[31]
1950 Scientific development Howard Gershon and Koichi S. Kondo discover suppressor T cells.[6]
1953 Scientific development J.F. Riley and G.B. West first report localization of histamine in mast cells.[41][42][43]
1953 Scientific development The Graft-versus-host disease is first described.[7]
1953 Scientific development British scientists Rupert E. Billingham, Leslie Brent, and Peter Medawar demonstrate the induction of immunological nonresponsiveness by injecting neonatal mice with foreign cells.[16] United Kingdom
1953 Scientific development The immunological tolerance hypothesis is developed.[7]
1953 – 1978 Scientific development Michael Heidelberg and Oswald Avery show that polysaccharides of pneumococcus are antigens, enabling to show that antibodies are proteins.[31]
1956 Scientific development Niels Kaj Jerne, David Talmage and Frank Macfarlane Burnet develop the clonal selection hypothesis, which proposes that before a lumphocyte ever encounters an antigen, the lymphocyte has specific receptors for that antigen on its surface.[31]
1956 – 1961 Scientific development Baruj Benacerraf, Jean Dausset, and George Davis Snell discover genetically-determined structures on the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions.[44][45][46][31]
1957 Scientific development British virologist Alick Isaacs and Suiss colleague Jean Lindemann discover interferon.[47][3][48][7]
1957 Scientific development German-American immunologist Ernest Witebsky and Noel Rose publish the initial description of antiself antibodies, leading to an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto's thyroiditis).[16] United States
1958 – 1962 Scientific development American biologist Gerald Edelman and British biochemist Rodney Robert Porter discover human leukocyte antigens and antibody structure, thymus involvement in cellular immunity and T and B cell cooperation in immune response.[31][7]
1958 Scientific development French immunologist Jean Dausset discovers the first human protein that allows the body's immune system to distinguish its own cells from foreign cells.[49][50][51]
1959 Scientific development British biochemist Rodney Robert Porter discovers the antibody structure.[7]
1959 Scientific development British immunologist James Learmonth Gowans discovers lymphocyte circulation.[7] United Kingdom
1959 Scientific development Danish immunologist Niels Kaj Jerne, American immunologist David Talmage, and Australian virologist Frank Macfarlane Burnet develop clonal selection theory.[3]
1962 Scientific development Rodney Robert Porter proposes a basic four-chain model for immunoglobulin molecules.[3][52][53][54]
1962 Scientific development Team led by Australian scientist Jacques Miller discovers thymus involvement in cellular immunity.[3][7]
1962 Scientific development Noel Warmer and Alexander Szenberg in Australia, and Max Cooper in the United States, experimenting with chicken, are able to report that the bursa and the thymus are responsible for different immunological functions.[55][56][57][3] Australia, United States
1967 Scientific development Japanese immunologists Teruko Ishizaka and Kimishige Ishizaka identify immunoglobulin E (IgE), the allergy antibody.[58][59][60][61]
1968 Scientific development Anthony Davis and team discover T cell and B cell cooperation in immune response.[62][3]
1972 Scientific development The structure of the antibody molecule is revealed.[7]
1974 Scientific development Rolf M. Zinkernagel and Peter C. Doherty discover how the immune system recognizes virus-infected cells.[3]
1974 Journal Journal Immunogenetics launches.[19]
1975 Scientific development Cesar Milstein, Georges J.F. Köhler and Niels K. Jerne develop theories concerning the specificity in development and control of the immune system and the discovery of the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies. This discovery would lead to an enormous expansion in the exploitation of antibodies in science an medicine.[31][7]
1976 Scientific development Japanese scientist Susumu Tonegawa discovers a genetic principle for generation of antibody diversity.[31][7]
1980 Journal The American Journal of Reproductive Immunology is launched.[63] United States
1980 Journal Peer-reviewed academic journal Human Immunology is launched.[64] United States
1985 Scientific development Susumu Tonegawa and American biologist Leroy Hood identify immunoglobulin genes.[3]
1986 Journal The International Reviews of Immunology is first published.[65]
1988 Journal The Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes is first published.[19]
1990 Scientific development American biologist Leroy Hood identifies genes for the T-cell receptor.[66][3]
1990 Medical development Gene therapy for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) is developed.[7]
1994 Scientific development French immunologist Polly Matzinger develops the "danger" model of immunological tolerance.[7]
1995 Scientific development Japanese immunologist Shimon Sakaguchi discovers regulatory T cells.[7] Japan
1996 – 1998 Scientific development Toll-like receptors are identified.[7]
2000 Medical development (drug) United States Food and Drug Administration approves the first anti-IgE drug, rhu-MAb-E25.[67][68]
2001 Journal Monthly review journal Nature Reviews Immunology is released by Nature Publishing Group.[19] United Kingdom

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See also

External links


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