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Nobel Winner Died Days Before Prize

October 4, 2011 by staff 

Nobel Winner Died Days Before PrizeNobel Winner Died Days Before Prize, Three scientists who unlocked the secrets of the body’s immune system, opening the door to new vaccines and treatments against cancer, won the 2011 Nobel Prize in medicine yesterday.

American Bruce Beutler and Jules Hoffman French biologist who studied the early stages of the immune response to the attacks, and the participation of 1.5 million (€ 1.1 million) prize with Canadian-born Ralph Steinman, whose discovery of dendritic cells in the decade of 1970 is key to understanding the next line of defense the body against disease.

However, minutes after the award announced, there was a problem. It was learned that one of the three, Mr. Steinman, had died of cancer just three days before he could be informed of their prize. A patient with pancreatic cancer, used her findings to extend its life.

Colleagues of Mr. Steinman (68) Rockefeller University in New York called it a “bittersweet” honor.

The Nobel Committee at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, which has no posthumous awards, said it was aware of the death of Mr. Steinman.

Swedish officials on the committee were quick to try to clarify what the General Secretary Goran Hansson calls a “unique situation, since he died hours before the decision was made”. Mr Hansson told the Swedish news agency TT that the review panel to do with the prize money, because of rules against posthumous awards. But it would be the name of an alternate winner.

In announcing the award to the three, the committee said it had “revolutionized our understanding of the immune system through the discovery of fundamental principles for activation.”

Lars Klareskog, who chairs the awards the Nobel Assembly, said: “I am very excited about what these findings mean. I think we will have new vaccines, better against microbes and is much needed now with the increased antibiotic resistance. ”

Mr. Beutler (53) is based on the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Luxembourg-born Mr. Hoffmann (70) conducted much of his work in Strasbourg. They share half of the 10 million Swedish kronor in cash prizes. The other half of the prize will be delivered to Mr. Steinman.

The work of the scientists has been instrumental in the development of improved types of vaccines against infectious diseases and new approaches to fight cancer. The research has helped lay the foundations for a new wave of “therapeutic vaccine” that stimulates the immune system to attack tumors.

A better understanding of the complexities of the immune system has also provided clues for the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, where the components integral defense system attacking the body’s own tissues.

Mr. Beutler and Mr. Hoffmann discovered in the 1990′s that receptor proteins act as a first line of defense – innate immunity – by bacteria and other microorganisms recognition. The work of Mr. Steinman explained that, if necessary, the dendritic cells in the next phase – adaptive immunity – kill infections that break.

Understanding dendritic cells led to the launch of the first therapeutic cancer vaccine last year, Dendreon Provenge, which treats men with advanced prostate cancer.

“We live in a dangerous world. Pathogens continually threaten us,” the Nobel panel, describing the work for decades in the understanding of our defenses.

“The first line of defense, innate immunity, can destroy invading microorganisms and trigger inflammation… If microorganisms break this line of defense, adaptive immunity is called to action… Producing antibodies and killer cells that destroy infected cells… These two lines of defense… provide good protection against infection, but also represent a risk:. inflammatory disease may follow ”

Medicine or physiology, usually the first of the Nobel prizes awarded each year. The prizes for achievement in science, literature and peace were first awarded in 1901, according to the will of dynamite inventor and businessman of Alfred Nobel.

The award citation noted that scientists in the world for a long time searching for the “guardians” of the immune response.

Mr Hoffmann’s pioneering research was carried out in the fruit fly, highlighting how the key elements of modern human biology have been conserved through evolution. The immune system exists primarily to protect against infection but also may protect against some types of cancer cells to attack before the proliferation of rogue.

Sometimes, however, the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks healthy tissues, resulting in inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Ralph Steinman, was born in 1943 in Canada and, at the time of his death, was based at Rockefeller University, New York.

In 1973 he coined the term dendritic cells, while working as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Zanvil Cohn, also at Rockefeller University.

Dendritic cells are immune system cells whose main function is to process and present antigens on the surface of other cells of the immune system.

The cells are present in tissues in contact with the external environment, such as the skin (where there is a specialized type of dendritic cells called Langerhans cells) and the inner lining of the nose, lungs, stomach and intestines.

Can also be found in an immature state in the blood.

Once activated, they migrate to the lymph nodes where they interact with T cells and B cells to initiate and shape the adaptive immune response.

Bruce Beutler was born in 1957 in Chicago, Illinois. He is an American immunologist and geneticist. Is professor and director of genetics at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

During his childhood and adolescence, he developed a lasting interest in biological science. He later did extensive research on the biology of lipopolysaccharide and herpes virus in order to understand the innate host resistance to infectious diseases, often known as innate immunity.

Jules Hoffmann was born in 1941 in Echternach, Luxembourg.

He is a French citizen, research director and board member of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

In 2007 he became president of the French Academy of Sciences.

He graduated in biology and chemistry and a doctorate in biology from the University of Strasbourg in 1969.

Between 1978 and 2005 was director of the CNRS research unit of 9022: the immune response and development of insects. From 1993 to 2005 was director of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of CNRS in Strasbourg.

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