Nobel Prize announced for work in immunology
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (CNN) -- The Nobel Assembly announced October 7 that the $1.12 million dollar Nobel
Prize in medicine would be awarded to a team studying how the immune system recognizes viruses.
Australian Peter Doherty and Swiss-born Rolf Zinkernagel
worked on the prize-winning project while both were at the
John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra,
Australia, from 1973 to 1975.
The pair's work "relates both to efforts to strengthen the
immune response against invading microorganisms and certain
form of cancer, and to efforts to diminish the effects of
autoimmune reactions in inflammatory disease," the Karolinska
Institute said in a statement announcing the prize.
The two scientists used mice to study how the immune system,
particularly T-lymphocytes, recognize virus-infected cells
and distinguish them from healthy cells. They discovered
lymphocytes," which in a test tube attacked and killed cells
infected by a virus. But they also discovered that the
"killer T-cells" worked only against a specific virus in a
specific mouse and could not be transferred to a different
Such discoveries have had a significant impact on the study
of diseases such as rheumatic conditions, multiple sclerosis
and diabetes, the institute said.
"Where infectious diseases are concerned, the new knowledge
provides a better platform for the construction of new
vaccines," the institute's statement continued.
The 55-year-old Doherty is now chairman of the Department of
Immunology at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in
Memphis, Tennessee, where he is also a professor and the
University of Tennessee's College of Medicine.
He studied in the Australian state of Queensland and in
Edinburgh, Scotland, and began his medical career as a
veterinary officer at the Animal Research Institute in
Zinkernagel, 52, studied in his native Basel, Switzerland and
in Canberra, and is now head of the Institute of Experimental
Immunology at the University of Zurich.
The Nobel Prizes, endowed by Swedish industrialist Alfred
Nobel, are awarded annually to those whose work is thought to
have benefited mankind most.
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