Crafoord Prize to an American and two Japanese

Today the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announces the laureates of the Crafoord Prize in Polyarthritis 2009.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Crafoord Prize in Polyarthritis 2009 jointly to harles Dinarello from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, and Tadamitsu Kishimoto and Toshio Hirano from the Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences at the Osaka University in Japan.

This year’s Crafoord Prize laureates discovered two new key players in the immune system of the human body: the signal substances interleukin-1 and interleukin-6. Child and adult joint-disease sufferers often have high concentrations of these substances in their bodies. Activated by these substances, the immune system then starts to break down cartilage and bone. But new drugs can stop this merciless process.

When the human immune system goes wrong, turning against a person’s own body, the results are painful and sometimes even life-threatening. In polyarthritis the immune system attacks the joints, slowly but surely eroding them. Today, tens of millions live with the commonest form of polyarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis. Juvenile chronic arthritis is also common, as are gout, psoriatic arthritis and Bechterew’s disease, all forms of polyarthritis.

The prize amounts to USD 500 000 and will be presented by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in the presence of H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden during a ceremony at the Academy on 11 May. The prize-awarding ceremony makes part of the Crafoord Days 2009, which comprise an international scientific symposium on polyarthritis in Stockholm on 12 May, and prize lectures in Lund on 13 May.

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