Besredka, Alexander

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BESREDKA, ALEXANDER (1870–1940), French immunologist, known for his research on anaphylaxis, local immunization, and immunization in contagious disease. Besredka was the son of a Hebrew writer, Elimelech Ish-Naomi. He first studied in Russia, but when it was proposed to him that he convert to Christianity in order to further his scientific career, he refused and moved to France. He completed his medical studies in Paris, became a French citizen, and was appointed a member of the Pasteur Institute of which he was later a director. Besredka maintained his contacts with Judaism all his life, was active in Jewish organizations such as *OSE, and wrote for Jewish scientific journals, including the Hebrew Ha-Refu'ah. His anaphylaxis research was based on original concepts, different from the accepted beliefs in immunology. In 1907 he discovered the possibility of eliminating hypersensitivity to foreign serum. His desensitization method was accepted throughout the world as the pretreatment of patients who had acquired a sensitivity toward a serum, in order to prevent anaphylactic shock by repeated serum treatment. Besredka was closely associated with the biologist Metchnikoff and in 1910 was appointed professor at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. His book Immunisation locale, pansements spécifiques was published in 1925.


Adler, in Ha-Refu'ah, 19 (July–Aug. 1940), 13.

[Aryeh Leo Olitzki]