The publication of Ehrlich's chemical, or rather physical, theory of immunity has thrown much light upon this very intricate and obscure subject.
The unit of antitoxin in Ehrlich's new standard is the amount requisite to antagonize i oo times the minimum lethal dose of a particular toxin to a guinea-pig of 250 grm.
Ehrlich's view is that the two substances form a firm combination like a strong acid and a base.
It has, moreover, been found that the serum of various animals has a certain amount of antitoxic action, and thus the basis for antitoxin production, according to Ehrlich's theory, is afforded.
Natural immunity against toxins must be taken into account, and, if Ehrlich's view with regard to toxic action be correct, this may depend upon either the absence of chemical affinity of the living molecules of the tissues for the toxic molecule, or upon insensitiveness to the action of the toxophorous group. It has been shown with regard to the former, for example, that the nervous system of the fowl, which possesses immunity against tetanus toxin, has little combining affinity for it.