50 years ago this year the antibody immunoglobulin (IgE) was discovered by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden in collaboration with a team from Children's Asthma Research Institute and Hospital in Denver. This 1967 “breakthrough” was the result of 70 years of scientific research on the immune systems and antibodies. It paved the way for allergy and asthma testing, diagnosis, treatment and subsequent research on why the immune system reacts the way it does to certain harmless proteins.
Like a lot of scientific breakthroughs, moments of “discovery” come in a series of small steps – usually by many scientists – sometimes over a long period of time. This was the case here as well. Scientists pricking their hands, injecting into their arms, wiping allergens on their skin, extracting blood for analysis – all on a journey to find an answer as to how the immune system works. We are the beneficiaries of their work.