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Historical perspectives in clinical pathology: Bence Jones protein—early urine chemistry and the impact on modern day diagnostics
  1. Sheromna Sewpersad1,
  2. Tahir S Pillay1,2
  1. 1 Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria & National Health Laboratory Service, Pretoria, South Africa
  2. 2 Division of Chemical Pathology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Professor Tahir S Pillay, Chemical Pathology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; jclinpatheic{at}


This is the third in the series of historical articles dealing with developments in clinical pathology. Bence Jones proteins are immunoglobulin light chains found in excessive quantities in urine in multiple myeloma and are believed to be one of the first tumour markers ever discovered . Dr Henry Bence Jones is credited with the discovery of this protein in 1847 that bears his name and he can also be regarded as the first chemical pathologist/clinical chemist. Since then, numerous advances and refinements have been made in the measurement and detection of urine light chain proteins which have resulted in the current sensitive serum free light chain assays used today.

  • multiple myeloma
  • immunoglobulins
  • hematologic diseases
  • bone marrow
  • antibodies

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  • Handling editor Runjan Chetty.

  • Contributors Both authors contributed equally to the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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