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Also in Breakthroughs

Gaston Ramon (1886–1963), a veterinarian at the Pasteur Institute in France, developed diphtheria toxoid. Working independently at the Wellcome Research Laboratories in London, physician Alexander Thomas Glenny (1882-1965) did likewise.

Ramon followed in the footsteps of other researchers by attempting to inactivate diphtheria toxin. He treated diphtheria toxin with heat and a solution of formaldehyde called formalin. Formalin inactivated the toxin molecule so that it could no longer attach to cells and cause toxicity. Once injected into humans, however, it was able to induce antibodies that blocked natural toxin from attaching to cells. The substance came to be called diphtheria toxoid. This breakthrough provided the simplest and most effective means to prevent diphtheria.

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