Cesar Milstein

Cesar Milstein
(1926 -2002)

Argentine immunologist who in 1984, with Georges Kohler and Niels K. Jerne, received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work in the development of monoclonal antibodies.
Milstein attended the universities of Buenos Aires and Cambridge (Ph.D., 1960) and was on the staff of the National Institute of Microbiology in Buenos Aires (1957-63). Thereafter he was a member of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, Eng., and held dual Argentine and British citizenship.

Milstein and Kohler, who was at Cambridge on a fellowship, made their discovery of the technique for producing monoclonal antibodies in 1975. It involved the fusion of short-lived, highly specific lymphocytes (antibody-producing cells) with the cells of a myeloma, a type of tumour that can be made to reproduce indefinitely. The resulting hybrid cells retained the two desired properties: like the lymphocytes, they secreted a single species of antibody molecules, and, like myeloma cells, they perpetuated themselves, providing potentially unlimited amounts of any desired antibody. This technique enabled the production of large quantities of pure, uniform antibodies that are able to recognize single antigenic determinants (i.e., a single characteristic of a particular microbial invader in the body). (See also antibody.)

In 1994 Milstein was made a Companion of Honour.

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