Two British researchers who pioneered treatments which have helped millions of people with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases have been awarded the prestigious 2008 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, announced today.
Emeritus Professor Sir Ravinder Maini and Professor Marc Feldmann, who have been carrying out research together at Imperial College London since the 1980s, were selected for the $100K award by an international committee including Nobel Laureates and other world-renowned scientists.
Their research has led to the development of new drugs which tackle the inflammation and tissue destruction caused by rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases including ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis.
The treatments they developed, now used by millions of people across the world, have proved effective in most patients, even those resistant to all previous treatments. They also protect the joints from further destruction.
Previous treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis left almost half of all patients with symptoms of continuing disease, deterioration of physical function and progressive joint damage.
The breakthrough came for Professors Maini and Feldmann when they discovered how autoimmune diseases such as arthritis cause the immune system to fight itself. Their work showed that the key lay in molecules responsible for cell communication, known as cytokines.
Cytokines are normally released by immune cells, to alert the immune system to initiate a protective counter-response against infections. Professors Maini and Feldmann discovered that in autoimmune diseases, cytokines are over-produced, with highly increased cytokine levels around otherwise healthy cells. This leads to the signs and symptoms of disease and in rheumatoid arthritis it explains the body's aggressive reaction in areas of arthritic inflammation around p
|Contact: Laura Gallagher|
Imperial College London