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ANAPHYLAXIS:Diagnosis and Treatment

Elsevier Inc.
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0095-4543(05)70089-0
  • Biology
  • Medicine


In 1901, Portier and Richet 6 studied immunization of animals against sea anemones toxins. At that time, the Prince of Monaco was an avid supporter of scientific research, and the initial studies were done in the Mediterranean Sea on his yacht. * * The principality of Monaco recently issued a stamp featuring the Prince of Monaco, Drs Portier and Richet, a Portuguese Man-o-War, the yacht, and the year 1901. Dr Portier and Dr Richet initiated their studies looking at the stings from Portuguese Man-O-Wars, but in completing their studies they finished using sea anemones, which were more readily available to them when they returned to Paris. 6 They were examining the immune response to the toxins and they discovered something unexpected: While endeavoring to determine its toxic dose we soon discovered that some days must elapse before fixing it; for several dogs did not die until the fourth or fifth day after administration, or even later. We kept those which had been given a dose insufficient to kill, in order to carry out a second investigation upon them when they had completely recovered. At this point an unforeseen event occurred. The dogs which had recovered were intensely sensitive, and died a few minutes after the administration of small doses......... These two factors—a. increased sensitivity to a poison after previous injection of the poison, and b. an incubation period necessary for this state of increased sensitivity to develop—constitute the two essential and sufficient conditions for anaphylaxis. 6 Dr Richet, who was the senior member of the partnership, received the Noble prize in medicine or physiology for this discovery in 1913. 6 They coined the term anaphylaxis to describe this. This came from the Greek a meaning “not” or “against” and phylaxis derived from the Greek word phylaxis meaning “a guarding” or “protection” so aphylaxis was against protection or the opposite to protection. Dr Portier and Dr Richet added the extra syllable making it anaphylaxis because aphylaxis was dysphonic. Therefore, anaphylaxis means a detrimental reaction to a substance.

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