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Alexandre Mikhailovich Besredka

Born 1870
Died 1940

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Oleksandr Mykhaylovych Bezredko Ukrainian-French serologist, born March 29, 1870, Odessa; died February 28, 1940, Paris.

Biography of Alexandre Mikhailovich Besredka

Alexandre Mikhailovich Besredka was the son of a professor of foreign languages. From 1888 to 1892 he studied biology in Odessa, where the teaching staff at the academy of sciences counted, among others, Ilya Ilich Mechnikov (1845-1916), Nikolaus von Kowalesky (1840-1891), and Cienkowsky, and where he was particularly busy in the laboratory of N. Zelinsky. In 1892 he presented his thesis for doctor of sciences: "Evolution de la conception stéréochimique".

In 1893 he left Russia for Paris and began working with Metchnikoff at the Pasteur Institute, while completing his medical education. In 1896 he followed the course of microbiology of the Pasteur Institute, and in 1897 he was conferred doctor of medicine with the thesis "Abscès sous-phréniques". From 1905 to 1914 he was head of laboratory at the Pasteur Institute.

In 1903, with G. Bertrand, Amédée Borrel (1867-1936), C Delezenne, A. Marie and Félix Mesnil (1868-1938), Besredka was co-founder of the Bulletin of the Pasteur Institute. He became a French citizen in 1910, when he was appointed professor at the Pasteur Institute. He specialised in research on immunology, cellular mechanisms self-defence and phagocytosis

During 1910 to 1914 Besredka collaborated with Metchnikoff in the study of the experimental typhoid fever on chimpanzees. This work was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I in 1914, when Besredka was mobilised. He accepted the rank of medical officer and directed the laboratory of bacteriology of the citadel of Verdun, then, in 1915, that of Bar-le-Duc.

Returning from the war in 1919, he succeeded Metchnikoff, who had died in 1916, as head of services. At this time he devoted himself to the study of the immunity of the intestinal infections (dysentery, typhoid, cholera) and carbonaceous. The experiments carried out in this field, lead him to move away from the cellular theory of the immunity of Metchnikoff and to develop the idea of a local immunity "Each virus has its body and each body its immunity". He remained head of services until 1940.

Besredka was a prominent member of the association for the protection of Jewish pubic health (Obschestvo zdravookhranenya yevreya – O.Z.E). He established an infantile preventive medicine service for the families of Jewish emigrants of the Paris area, and also organised the reception of the first 300 German, Austrian and Czech children entrusted to the O.S.E. after the "Night of Crystal" in 1938.

He died in Paris on February 28, 1940, only months before Germany invaded France.

Besredka undertook fundamental research on immunity an anaphylaxis, and made major contributions in vaccines against various infectious diseases like pest, cholera, dysentery, typhus, paratyphus, and anthrax. His studies of tuberculosis, and his anti virus therapy in particular, are worth mentioning. He is particularly remembered for his work on anaphylaxis and antianaphylaxis in 1907. He also introduced the term antivirus (Comptes-rendus de la Société de biologie,1923, 89: 7). His discoveries were used to develop the methods of preventions and care used today in the fight against new diseases. He is certainly one of the researchers, unfortunately forgotten, to which current medicine must more.

We thank Zoran Bojanic, Serbia, and Bohdan Bidovanets for information used in this article.

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