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Philip Levine; Discovered Rh Factor in Human Blood

October 21, 1987|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — Philip Levine, the research scientist who discovered the Rh factor in human blood, has died at age 87.

Levine, who received numerous awards for his discovery of key blood factors, for greatly increasing the safety of blood transfusions and for identifying the Rh hemolytic disease, died Sunday at a nursing home in Manhattan.

Hemolytic disease can cause fetal death in pregnancies in which the blood of the father and the infant is Rh positive while the mother's is negative. The mother's antibodies destroy the red blood cells of the fetus, causing anemia and miscarriage.

The disease is treated by replacing the infant's blood supply, usually right after birth, virtually eliminating severe mental or physical damage.

Levine also discovered that the blood serum of some cancer patients can become toxic to their cancer cells, offering the possibility of longstanding remission in certain types of cancer.

Levine was born in Kletsk, Russia, and came to the United States with his family when he was 8.

Levine, who received his medical degree from Cornell University, worked at the Rockefeller Institute, the University of Wisconsin Medical School and Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, N.J., before becoming director of the biological division of the Ortho Research Foundation in Raritan, N.J., in 1944, where he discovered other blood factors and antibodies.

Ortho, a division of Johnson & Johnson, was soon named the Philip Levine Laboratories. Levine held the post there for 21 years, retiring in 1965, then served as a consultant until two years ago.

His honors included the presidency of the American Society of Human Genetics, a fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians in London and membership in the National Academy of Sciences.

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