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Origin of the name H2


Gorer's discovery of the four antigens in mice blood groups
Jan Klein Scientist
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When JBS Haldane visited the United States he toured the laboratories. He also went to Bar Harbor in Maine where there was a major group of researchers working on mice and also made... largest collection of inbred strains in the world. And Snell was working on... later on the H2 system, but this was later. When he went there he heard about these tumor transplantation experiments and he knew about the blood group experiments. So apparently it occurred to him that there might be some relationship between the antigens that stimulated the immune system to reject the tumor and the antigens... the blood group antigens stimulating antibodies specific for them by which they... the blood groups were detected. So when he... so he took some inbred strain breeding pairs back into... to London and then gave them to Peter Gorer and said, 'Look this would be a good thing to test whether there is some relationship between the two'. And Gorer did this. Gorer was a pathologist by training and so he was interested in tumors, he was also interested in antigens so it was a good project for him. That was in 1936 and in 1936 he discovered yes, mice have blood groups, and he discovered four antigens and gave them names. Roman I through Roman IV.  And also discovered that... well I think this is not important... but described these four antigens. One of these antigens turned out to be H2. The II... I, II, III, IV... the II turned out to be what would later be called H2. So actually H2 was discovered in 1936, which is the year in which I was born. So it was written in my stars I guess to become involved in... with H2.

Born in 1936, Jan Klein is a Czech-American immunologist who co-founded the modern science of immunogenetics – key to understanding illness and disease. He is the author or co-author of over 560 scientific publications and of seven books including 'Where Do We Come From?' which examines the molecular evolution of humans. He graduated from the Charles University at Prague in 1955, and received his MS in Botany from the same school in 1958. From 1977 to his retirement in 2004, he was the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology at Tübingen, Germany.

Listeners: Colm O'hUigin

Colm O'hUigin is a senior staff scientist at the US National Cancer Institute. He received his BA, MSc and PhD at the Genetics Department of Trinity College, Dublin where he later returned as a lecturer. He has held appointments at the Center for Population and Demographic Genetics, UT Houston, and at the University of Cambridge. As an EMBO fellow, he moved in 1990 to the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen, Germany to work with Jan Klein and lead a research group studying the evolutionary origins of immune molecules, of teeth, trypanosomes and of species.

Tags: antigens, blood groups, H2 system, JBS Haldane, George Davis Snell, Peter Alfred Gorer

Duration: 2 minutes, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008