Diphtheria Antitoxin - 1895
Diphtheria is a killer by the toxins it excretes, which can cause necrosis, myocarditis, and, most dangerously, the putrid-smelling pseudo-membrane that can line the pharynx and trachea, preventing breathing.
Antitoxins were the first solution to these toxins. Antibodies against the toxin were taken from the serum of large animals (horses) who were inoculated with the toxin produced by the C. diphtheriae bacteria. The amount of toxin was small enough that it only produced an immune reaction in the animal, and did not poison them.
When someone contracted diphtheria, the antitoxin could be injected, and this inactivated the circulating toxin created by the bacteria. While it did not kill the bacteria itself, the immune system was capable of doing that on its own when it wasn’t busy being dissolved and ripped apart by the toxins. Unfortunately, the antitoxin could not inactivate toxins created by bacteria that were already bound to tissues, so the earlier it was administered, the better.
Combined with the refinement of the tracheotomy (so that patients could breathe, even with a pseudo-membrane covering their airway), the antitoxin dropped the mortality rate of diphtheria from 40-45% down to around 12-15%. 
Image: Production of antitoxin by inoculation of horses. One of the first bottles of antitoxin produced at the Hygienic Lab, later known as the National Institutes of Health.

Diphtheria Antitoxin - 1895

Diphtheria is a killer by the toxins it excretes, which can cause necrosis, myocarditis, and, most dangerously, the putrid-smelling pseudo-membrane that can line the pharynx and trachea, preventing breathing.

Antitoxins were the first solution to these toxins. Antibodies against the toxin were taken from the serum of large animals (horses) who were inoculated with the toxin produced by the C. diphtheriae bacteria. The amount of toxin was small enough that it only produced an immune reaction in the animal, and did not poison them.

When someone contracted diphtheria, the antitoxin could be injected, and this inactivated the circulating toxin created by the bacteria. While it did not kill the bacteria itself, the immune system was capable of doing that on its own when it wasn’t busy being dissolved and ripped apart by the toxins. Unfortunately, the antitoxin could not inactivate toxins created by bacteria that were already bound to tissues, so the earlier it was administered, the better.

Combined with the refinement of the tracheotomy (so that patients could breathe, even with a pseudo-membrane covering their airway), the antitoxin dropped the mortality rate of diphtheria from 40-45% down to around 12-15%. 

Image: Production of antitoxin by inoculation of horses. One of the first bottles of antitoxin produced at the Hygienic Lab, later known as the National Institutes of Health.

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    A bit tempted to tack on a conversation about some interesting issues this causes with individuals who protest the use...
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  22. totallyfuckingweirdedout reblogged this from biomedicalephemera and added:
    You had me at Necrosis.
  23. crossedanddotted reblogged this from biomedicalephemera and added:
    This is the antitoxin that Balto had to bring to Nome! Thus, the birth of the Iditarod Trail Race. /nerd
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  25. mel-alicia reblogged this from biomedicalephemera and added:
    When medicine was created to actually save people rather than pharmaceutical companies looking to make a quick buck off...