TANG PRIZE/Retired researcher still hoping to revolutionize immunology again

Immunologist and Tang Prize laureate Marc Feldmann has seen his pioneering treatment used to tackle over a dozen diseases, revolutionizing the pharmaceutical industry while helping treat millions of patients. But at 76 years old, he shows no signs of slowing down.

 

In a recent interview with CNA, the retired Oxford professor reflected on his research path and his numerous ongoing projects, crediting his seemingly inexhaustible energy to a drive to help people and do good.

 

After already changing the world once, he said the temptation to keep going “is very strong.” And he is optimistic that he just might be able to do it again.

 

From laboratory findings to a powerful therapy

Feldmann, who grew up in France and Australia but spent most of his research career in the United Kingdom, is one of three recipients of the 2020 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science, and was officially awarded the prize at a virtual ceremony last week.

 

The immunologist is credited with being the first to demonstrate that patients with rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes pain and swelling in one’s joints, had far more pro-inflammatory cytokines than normal, and identified tumor necrosis factor (TNF) as the key one.

 

Cytokines are a large family of proteins found in the immune system that play a key role in one’s responses to infection; the primary function of TNF in particular is the regulation of immune cells.

 

After identifying TNF as a target, Feldmann worked with his colleagues to successfully develop an anti-TNF antibody for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Today, anti-TNF treatments have become “standard therapy” for rheumatoid arthritis as well as multiple autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, converting them from severely debilitating conditions to largely manageable diseases, the Tang Prize Foundation said in its award citation.

 

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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