Science and serendipity

Clin Med (Lond). 2007 Dec;7(6):562-78. doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.7-6-562.


Good science demands independent replication of new ideas and results and abandonment of accepted theories in light of more reliable evidence. Failure to comply leads to damaging bad science, as with the falsely claimed association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccination and autism. Progress of good science also often requires serendipity, 'making discoveries by accident and sagacity of things not sought'. Work on the pentraxin proteins, C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid P component (SAP), and on amyloidosis, has benefited from abundant serendipity, leading to routine clinical use of CRP measurements, the invention of SAP scintigraphy for amyloidosis, the establishment of the NHS National Amyloidosis Centre providing superior patient care, and latterly the invention of a novel pharmacological mechanism for therapeutic depletion of pathogenic proteins. New drugs using this mechanism are in development for amyloidosis and cardiovascular disease and potentially also Alzheimer's disease, type II diabetes and other tissue damaging conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloidosis* / blood
  • Amyloidosis* / diagnosis
  • Amyloidosis* / epidemiology
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Serum Amyloid P-Component / metabolism*


  • Serum Amyloid P-Component
  • C-Reactive Protein