Bence-Jones Protein

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I had always assumed that the “Bence-Jones” protein–essentially, the demonstration of monoclonal light chains on urine protein electropheresis (UPEP)–was named after two doctors, Bence & Jones.  However I recently found out that actually it was named after a single individual:  Henry Bence Jones, a famous British physician and chemist.  In 1848, he was cited as the driving force for the investigation of an unusual chemical analysis discovered in the urine of a patient with myeloma in a paper titled “On the microscopical character of mollities ossium” (mollities ossium was the name for myeloma, which at the time was thought of as a bone disease based on the osteolytic bone metastases which resulted).  In this paper, he described the appearance of a precipitate which occurred when the urine was heated to 50-60 degrees, disappeared when boiled, and reappeared again when the urine cooled–this substance is now known to be the same urine light chains which result in cast nephropathy.

According to this brief biography of Henry Bence Jones, he published on a variety of topics including renal calculi and gout, and was an early proponent of the urinalysis (both urine microscopy as well as chemical analysis of the urine) in diagnosis.  He was also apparently the physician for Charles Darwin, and published the then-definitive biography of the physicist Michael Faraday.   

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