May 14 commemorates a significant milestone in the history of medical science.
In the late 1700s, Edward Jenner, an English physician, dedicated himself to the eradication of smallpox, one of the leading causes of death at the time. It was believed that milkmaids were immune to the disease, but no one knew why. Dr. Jenner observed that milkmaids were often exposed to cowpox, and theorized that the resulting blisters somehow protected these women from the deadlier smallpox.
On May 14, 1796, Dr. Jenner took the pus from cowpox blisters and used it to inoculate an eight-year old boy. After several exposures to smallpox, the boy showed no signs of infection. Dr. Jenner published his findings in 1798, but it was not until 1840 that the British government finally passed the first Act promoting vaccinations. (The word “vaccine” is Latin for “from the cow.”)
After worldwide vaccination campaigns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, smallpox was declared to be eradicated in 1979. Today, Edward Jenner is considered “the father of immunology.” His contribution is believed to have saved more lives than the work of any other human in history.
Today, Agilent solutions are used throughout the research community to understand, diagnose and treat diseases. Agilent technologies such as SureSelect and Array CGH enable fundamental research in biology, including the understanding of the human immune system. Agilent makes the world’s highest-quality DNA, a key technology for synthetic biology. Synthetic biology has the potential to revolutionize future vaccine development.
And with the acquisition of Dako, Agilent technologies are now used in the analysis of one third of all solid cancer tumors worldwide, aiding in their diagnosis and treatment.
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