Did you know that Rodney Robert Porter was born today in 1917? He was a biochemist and in 1972, Rodney Robert Porter was awarded the Nobel Prize for determining the chemical structure of an antibody. Antibodies are critical parts of the immune system. They ‘attack’ foreign substances (antigen) that have invaded the body like bacteria, viruses, a sliver of wood, venom, or a transplanted organ, by bonding to the invader. Antibodies can neutralize poisons or venoms, prevent invading microbes from entering and infecting body cells, or even burst the cell walls of invading microbes. Some antibodies attract other immune system cells that ‘eat’ the antigen.
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Rodney Robert Porter shared the 1972 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Gerald M. Edelman. They were able to analyze the structure of an antibody by using an enzyme called papain to ‘cut’ the antibody molecule into different fragments that were easier to analyze.
A biochemist studies how certain chemical reactions happen in the cells and tissues of living organisms.
Antibodies that neutralize toxins are known as antitoxins. Sometimes by bonding with the toxin, they change its chemical structure, rendering the toxin inert.
Antibodies are produced by white blood cells, called lymphocytes or B cells.