In 1805 a Dorset farmer, Benjamin Jesty arrived in London on an invitation from the Original Vaccine Pock Institute to describe his cowpox vaccination procedure on his own family which included a real time inoculation of his son Robert with smallpox. This new institute was formed by the anti-Jenner physician George Pearson in an attempt to shift the credit for vaccination discovery away from Jenner.
This month marks 266 years since the birth of one of the most celebrated names in medical discovery. Edward Jenner, credited with the discovery of the smallpox vaccination, was born on 17 May 1749 (6 May by the Julian calendar, still in use in England by a quirk of anti-papal authoritarianism until 1752) in the village of Berkeley in Gloucestershire, England.
In 1998 the biotech company Genentech launched Herceptin for the treatment of certain types of breast cancer. Herceptin was an example of a ‘therapeutic antibody’ and was the first of its type for cancer treatment. Antibodies are proteins in our immune system that can target abnormal cells (or bacteria, toxins, viruses, etc.) in the body, and on arriving at the target can set in motion a whole set of biological events that in principle can remove or degrade to a non-dangerous state the abnormal cells.