The History of Immunochemistry

Immunochemistry is an area of biochemical research and production that is chiefly concerned with immunological responses and biomolecular mechanics. Its underlying aim is to improve global understandings of antibodies and antigens, and the interplay between the two. This historical drive laid the foundation for inoculation processes, the invention of immunoassay equipment, and a broad range of immunological reagents for both laboratory and commercially-available testing equipment.

Historical Understandings of Immunology

Understanding of historical immunochemistry is rooted in early theories of vaccination, or adaptive immunity. As early as 430 B.C. it was speculated that individuals who survived a disease would be protected from further exposure to that specific virus or pathogen – even though contemporaries had no awareness of the microscopic organisms that were the source these illnesses. It was over 1,300 years until these suspicions were proved correct.

The invention of microscopic instrumentation laid the groundwork for modern immunochemistry. The first microscopes were manufactured in the late 16th Century, but these rudimentary apparatuses lacked the magnifying strength to illuminate the microcosmic world. The real breakthrough came almost a century later, when a Dutch scientist by the name of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek refined the lens-making process for application in microscopic instrumentation.

While contemporary microscopes were capable of magnifying objects by roughly 50x, the new lenses could view objects to within one millionth of a meter. Van Leeuwenhoek was subsequently the first person to view bacteria and protozoa. This profound revelation fundamentally changed the world, leading to swathes of new areas of study, including that of immunochemistry.

Within decades of this discovery, reports had begun to suggest that internal defense mechanisms in the body were responsible for maintaining healthy biological structures, and that these immunological responses could be subsequently manipulated. Edward Jenner is credited with the theory of variolation, and the first instance of deliberate inoculation to the smallpox virus. He refined this method, subsequently inventing vaccinations.

The Beginnings of Immunochemistry

Jenner’s observations formed the cornerstone for understanding antibodies and antigens, though it was still some time before the causative effect of these reactions was firmly established. The first direct acknowledgement of antibodies came in the 1890s, in publications from Emil von Behring and his peers, who had successfully created serums against diphtheria and tetanus by transferring sera from immunized rats to infected rats, consequently curing them.

One of the most important breakthroughs for the establishment of modern immunochemistry came at the turn of the 20th Century, when physician Paul Ehrlich established the side-chain theory which remains generally true today. He posited that blood proteins deliberately targeted pathogens in the body and bound to them, proposing a branched model of antibody molecules that allowed for multi-site molecular binding to contaminant tissues.

Varying theories of immunochemistry were adopted throughout the 20th Century to explain how antibodies were produced by lymphocyte cells in a body’s immune system. It was determined that B lymphocytes produce specific antibodies for a target antigen, to label pathogenic material for destruction by T lymphocytes. This pervasive understanding of how antibody and antigen responses occurred directly resulted in the invention of monoclonal antibodies and drug conjugates in 1975.

Modern immunochemistry is broadly concerned with the application of monoclonal antibodies, with a wide range of valuable applications for this groundbreaking technology. They are implemented as biomarkers for detecting drugs of abuse or therapeutic drugs in EIA or ELISA tests, with broadening applications for diagnosing varying biological conditions or illnesses using lateral flow technology.

Immunochemistry Solutions from Pyxis Labs

Pyxis were founded in 1997 with thorough experience in the production of specialty reagents for various diagnostic equipment. We have been instrumental in supporting research and production for pharmaceutical fields, diagnostic testing, and continuing immunochemistry applications.

If you would like any more information about our immunochemistry solutions, please do not hesitate to contact us.