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Johnson & Johnson honors 2008 recipients of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research
Date:9/10/2008

Beerse, Belgium September 10, 2008 The 2008 recipients of The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, Professor Marc Feldmann, FMedSci, FAA, FRS and Emeritus Professor Sir Ravinder Maini, FRCP, FMedSci, FRS of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Imperial College London, are being honored during a scientific symposium today and at a formal award ceremony at the Dr. Paul Janssen Research Center in Beerse, Belgium tomorrow. Feldmann and Maini received the $100,000 prize for their role in the discovery of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) as an effective therapeutic target for rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions.

"Thanks to their pioneering biomedical research, Feldmann and Maini have significantly improved the lives of millions of patients with chronic inflammatory conditions," said Paul Stoffels, company group chairman, Global Research and Development, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson. "We are delighted that the 2008 Dr. Paul Janssen Award is going to two researchers with a lifelong commitment to translational research. Their achievements would have been greatly appreciated by Dr. Paul Janssen, who himself was instrumental in the development of many important medicines."

For more than 20 years, Feldmann and Maini have collaborated on basic research and clinical trials that have transformed the treatment of people diagnosed with chronic inflammatory conditions. Feldmann and Maini investigated the role of cytokines, protein messenger molecules that drive inflammation, and found that a single cytokine, TNF-alpha, was responsible for the debilitating symptoms of inflammatory disease. In seeking ways to block TNF-alpha, they studied a monoclonal antibody previously developed for an unrelated condition. Clinical trials revealed rapid and dramatic improvement of rheumatoid disease activity with anti-TNF therapy, ultimately influencing the development of several anti-TNF drugs that are used routinely to treat prevalent and debilitating conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

"Advances in molecular medicine, biotechnology and contributions from many colleagues enabled our discovery to be made," said Maini. "It is a joy to see how the lives of patients have been changed by this treatment."

There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and ulcerative colitis. The safety and efficacy of anti-TNF therapies has been well established in clinical trials and through experience with more than one million patients treated globally.

"It is very pleasing that our research defining TNF as a good therapeutic target for rheumatoid arthritis has subsequently led to TNF blockade in Crohn's disease, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis and ulcerative colitis," said Feldmann. "Blocking other cytokines such as IL-6 has been successful, too. This has led to a newly emerging branch of medicine, anti-cytokine therapy. We are very excited that we now have the potential to treat even more diseases and help more patients."

Feldmann and Maini received additional recognition during two related events in New York City: an invitation-only gala reception on September 9 and a scientific symposium at the New York Academy of Sciences today. Nobel Laureate and 2006 winner of The Dr. Paul Janssen Award, Craig Mello, Ph.D., chaired the scientific symposium, "From Bench to Bedside: Novel Anti-Cytokine Therapies." The symposium featured presentations on scientific advances since the initial discovery of anti-TNF therapy, including advances in the basic understanding of disease mechanisms and development of new anti-cytokine therapies.

Feldmann and Maini previously received the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award in 2003 and the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy in 2000, among others, for their work on TNF-alpha.


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Contact: Lisa Vaga
lvaga@its.jnj.com
908-670-0363
Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, L.L.C.
Source:Eurekalert

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