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The Japanese Cancer Association and Debiopharm Group™ Present Doctors Arakawa and Kurokawa With the 2011 'JCA-Mauvernay Award' for Their Innovative and Outstanding Research in the Field of Cancer

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, October 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --

Debiopharm Group™ (Debiopharm), a Swiss-based global biopharmaceutical group with a focus on drug development and companion diagnostics, today presented the 'JCA-Mauvernay Award' to Doctor Hirofumi Arakawa from the National Cancer Center Research Institute in Tokyo, for his basic research on the 'identification and characterization of p53 target genes' and to Doctor Mineo Kurokawa from the University of Tokyo, for his applied research on 'the molecular pathogenesis and therapeutic targets of hematological malignancies'. The ceremony was held during the 70th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Cancer Association (JCA) in Nagoya, Japan. This year the theme was 'Forward Strides for Cancer Research - Grounds for a Confident Future'. Professor Tetsuo Noda, President of the JCA and Dr Rolland-Yves Mauvernay, Founder and President of Debiopharm Group™ presented both scientists with the 2011 Award for their outstanding and innovative research.

Dr Hirofumi Arakawa works in the division of Cancer Biology at the National Cancer Center Research Institute. Since 1999, he has focused on the p53 (protein 53) tumour suppressor, which functions mainly by controlling the expression of a battery of genes involved in life and death of the cell, and which is referred to as "the guardian of the genome". Dr. Arakawa has identified, characterised and reported over 20 p53-regulated target genes.

Recently his group discovered an unusual mechanism for mitochondrial quality control, in which the p53 pathway controls mitochondrial quality by repairing or eliminating unhealthy mitochondria, suggesting that cancer cells might accumulate unhealthy mitochondria due to p53 mutations. Maintenance of healthy mitochondria prevents aging, cancer, and a variety of degenerative diseases, therefore Dr Arakawa's research offers a new approach of cancer and mitochondrial quality control, suggesting that p53 is also a guardian of mitochondria.

Dr Mineo Kurokawa works in the department of Hematology and Oncology at the Graduate School of Medicine. For 20 years, he has studied the mechanisms of malignant transformation of hematopoietic stem cells (multipotent stem cells that give rise to all blood lineages) in order to elucidate the pathogenesis of blood malignancies. He focused on the role of transcription factors associated with human leukaemia. For instance he revealed the transforming activity of EVI1, a protein frequently activated in human leukaemia and elucidated its' functions that are involved in the prevention of cell death.

Through his pursuit of the pathogenetic significance of deregulated transcription factors in leukaemia, Dr Kurokawa has consistently contributed to the understanding of a mechanistic basis of leukaemia development and the identification of novel therapeutic targets of human haematological malignancies.

"We are proud to reward these very talented and inspiring scientists for their hard work and accomplishments. The jury's decision to nominate them was unanimous," said Rolland-Yves Mauvernay, President and founder of Debiopharm Group™. "We wish them a lot of luck for the future hoping their work will lead to major medical developments eventually benefiting the patients in the years to come."

About Debiopharm Group™

Debiopharm Group™ (Debiopharm) is a Swiss-based global biopharmaceutical group of companies with a focus on the development of prescription drugs that target unmet medical needs. The group in-licenses, develops and/or co-develops promising biological and small molecule drug candidates having reached clinical development phases I, II or III, as well as earlier stage candidates. It develops its products for global registration and maximum commercial potential. The products are out-licensed to pharmaceutical partners for sales and marketing. Debiopharm is also active in the field of companion diagnostics with a view to progressing in the area of personalised medicine. Debiopharm independently funds the worldwide development of all of its products while providing expertise in pre-clinical and clinical trials, manufacturing, drug delivery and formulation, and regulatory affairs.

For more information on Debiopharm Group™, please visit:

Debiopharm S.A. Contact
Maurice Wagner
Director Corporate Affairs & Communication
Tel.: +41(0)21-321-01-11
Fax: +41(0)21-321-01-69

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In London
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Tel: +44(0)20-7379-5151

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