The Early History of Plasma Cell Tumors in Mice, 1954-1976†

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Plasma cell tumors (PCTs) in mice became available at an exciting period in immunology when many scientists and laboratories were occupied with how to explain the genetic basis of antibody diversity as well as antibody structure itself. An unlimited source of PCTs in an inbred strain of mice became a useful adjunct in these efforts. A PCT was a greatly expanded monoclone and a source of a single molecular species of immunoglobulin (Ig) molecule. The PCTs provided not only the components of the Ig - producing cell but also potentially functional secreted products. Many of the monoclonal Igs produced by PCTs in the mouse and others found in humans were found to have specific antigen - binding activities. These became the prototypes of monoclonal antibodies. This chapter describes the origins of PCTs in mice and attempts to recapture some of the ambience of the day albeit from personal recollection. The great discovery of the hybridoma technology by Cesar Milstein and Georges Kohler in 1975 began a new direction in immunology.

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