Professors Marc Feldmann and Sir Ravinder Maini Named Winners of the 2008 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research
The award salutes the most passionate and creative scientists in basic orclinical research, whose scientific achievements have made, or have strongpotential to make, a measurable impact on human health. Feldmann and Mainiwere selected for their role in the discovery of tumor necrosis factor-alpha,or TNF-alpha, as an effective therapeutic target for rheumatoid arthritis andother chronic inflammatory conditions afflicting millions worldwide. Theaward, which includes a $100,000 prize, will be presented to the winners atevents in New York and Beerse, Belgium in September.
According to Solomon Snyder, Ph.D., Distinguished Service Professor ofNeuroscience, Pharmacology and Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicineand Chairman, Janssen Award Selection Committee, "The work of Feldmann andMaini exemplifies the bench-to-bedside approach that Paul Janssen'scontributions epitomized. It is extremely rare for researchers to identify amolecular messenger in test tube studies, demonstrate its physiologicrelevance in animals and themselves carry these efforts forward to asuccessful clinical demonstration. Feldmann and Maini did all of this, leadingto therapeutic agents of inestimable, lifesaving importance."
Established by Johnson & Johnson, the Dr. Paul Janssen Award forBiomedical Research honors the founder of Janssen Pharmaceutica. Known to hiscolleagues as "Dr. Paul," Janssen was one of the 20th century's most giftedand passionate researchers, a physician-scientist who helped save millions oflives through his contribution to the discovery and development of more than80 medicines. Janssen's legacy continues to inspire Johnson & Johnson'scommitment to finding innovative cures for unmet medical needs.
Feldmann and Maini have collaborated for more than 20 years in basicresearch and clinical trials that have transformed the treatment of rheumatoidarthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions. Feldmann and Mainiinvestigated the role of cytokines, protein messenger molecules that driveinflammation, and found that a single cytokine, TNF, was capable of drivingthe disease process. This led them to seek ways of blocking TNF, and theychose to use a monoclonal antibody previously developed for an unrelatedcondition. Clinical trials revealed rapid and dramatic improvement ofrheumatoid disease activity with anti-TNF therapy, which led to development ofseveral anti-TNF drugs. As TNF is also involved in other chronic inflammatorydiseases, the pioneering work of Feldmann and Maini has led to the routine useof anti-TNF therapy for many prevalent and debilitating conditions.
Feldmann said, "We are very pleased with the widespread clinicalapplicability of our discovery that a messenger molecule, TNF, was aneffective target for treatment not only in rheumatoid arthritis but also otherchronic inflammatory conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease,ankylosing spondylitis and psoriasis. This discovery suggested that othercytokine messenger molecules are also good treatment targets and has led to anemerging branch of medicine -- anti-cytokine therapy. I believe Dr. Janssenwould have been intrigued as we explore the range of diseases treatable bythese anti-cytokines."
"Our discovery of anti-TNF therapy for disabling chronic inflammatoryconditions was the result of contributions made by many colleagues andcollaborators and only possible because of advances in molecular medicine andbiotechnology," said Maini. "The joy of the fruits of our work is that it madea difference
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