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Letter from Linus Pauling to Karl Landsteiner. July 15, 1940.
Pauling reports that Landsteiner's serum and antigens have arrived, but his experiments with the substances have been unsuccessful. He proposes an experiment on the presence or absence of antibodies in various types of rabbit blood. He requests that Landsteiner inform him if a similar experiment has been performed previously.


July 15, 1940

Dr. Karl Landsteiner

Newfane, Vermont

Dear Dr. Landsteiner:

Your serum and antigens arrived safely, and Dr. Campbell and I have begun experiments with then, with however no results of interest so far.

I have thought of an experiment which might he of great interest in showing the presence or absence of antibodies with two kinds of complementary regions, and I am writing to you now to ask if the experiment has ever been carried out. I notice that AB erythrocytes are completely agglutinated by either α serum or β serum, and I suppose also by rabbit antibodies to either A or B erythrocytes. This shows that AB blood contains corpuscles which individually possess both A and B groups. Hence we would predict that rabbit antibodies to these corpuscles would be of three kinds, α-α, β-β, and α-β. Now the following experiment should test for the presence of α-β. Let some A erythrocytes be treated with an excess of AB antiserum, sufficiently great so that agglutination does not occur, each erythrocyte being completely coated with antibodies. Let these coated cells be washed and then added to a suspension of B erythrocytes. If the serum contained α-β antibodies, agglutination of the cells should occur. If not, there should be no agglutination. A similar experiment could be carried out with serum of O type blood, to test for the presence of α-β antibodies in this serum. Can you tell me whether this experiment has been carried out and with what results? If it has not been done, I would plan to do it.

With best regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Linus Pauling


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