Prev : Next Antibody formation theory
Image credit: The Nobel Foundation
Conceptualizing biological immunity as a system
Danish immunologist Niels Jerne proposes that blood naturally contains a vast array of lymphocytes (antibody-producing cells), and that the introduction of an antigen (an antibody-eliciting substance) into the body activates a certain subgroup within this population, stimulating the production of highly specific antibodies. The theory is not well-received because it appears to violate an assumption that has become sacred in molecular biology: the notion that the cellular manufacture of proteins (including antibodies) is guided by the transcription and translation of DNA, and not by external stimuli. Three years later, the clonal selection theory advanced by Frank MacFarlane Burnet and David W. Talmage resolves the conundrum of systemic antibody formation – in conceptual terms, at least.