Three scientists shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine 2011 for their discovery of the body's immune system in which the jury considered open new horizons in the fight against cancer and other diseases.
The scientists are Bruce Beutler from the United States, Jules Hoffman from France and Ralph Steinman from Canada. All three scientists are known for their hard work in understanding the complex immune system, particularly in signaling molecules to release the antibodies and kill the cells as a response against microbes.
Understanding the mechanism will open the door to new drugs as well as control of autoimmune diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohns disease which occurs because the body's immune system inexplicably attacks the body.
Methods for the prevention and treatment of diseases is also possible with the improvement of vaccines in combating infection and stimulate the immune system to attacks tumor cells. The judges also said the discovery is helping scientists understand why it happened antibodies attack the body tissues, and also opened a gap in the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
Beutler (55) and Hoffmann (70) will share a half of the Nobel prizes worth US $ 1.48 million. Both found a protein receptor that activates the first step in the immune system. Since 1996, Hoffmann has worked in research laboratories in Strasbourg to investigate how fruit flies fight off infection and showed a gene called Toll, which is known to be involved in embryonic development and help identify and fight harmful microorganisms. Beutler widen the focus of his research in 1998 when he was still at the University of Texas found that the LPS receptor called Toll is also working in the same way in mice. It is at once prove mammals and fruit flies have the same immune path away.
Meanwhile, Steinman (68) won a half of Nobel prize in medicine because of his research that show adaptive response. In 1973 he discovered a new cell type namely dendritic cells and demonstrate its role in releasing T cells, killer in the immune system. T cells are also part of the immunological memory, which mobilize the strength and speed in the body's defense when the same microorganism cells to attack back. Steinman who also won the Lasker Prize in 2007 indicates the body's immune system is able to fight harmful microorganisms by ridding its own body's molecules.
Every year, early October is the time of the announcement of the winners of the Nobel prize, which usually begins with the announcement of the winner in medicine. All three scientists will receive their prizes in a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, which is the birthday of the founder of the Nobel Foundation, Afred Nobel who died in 1896.