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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Immunology Breakthrough Earns Nobel Prize
7 October 1996 8:00 pm
The 1996 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine has been awarded to Australia's Peter C. Doherty and Switzerland's Rolf Zinkernagel for their breakthrough insights into the inner workings of the human immune system.
The two Nobel laureates figured out how the body identifies viruses and other invading microorganisms as "foreign." The work, carried out in the 1970s at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra, Australia, showed how the immune system distinguishes between normal and infected cells, laying the groundwork for current research in cellular immunology. The discoveries have led to insights into understanding the development of certain cancers and diseases of the immune system such as AIDS and rheumatoid arthritis.
Doherty and Zinkernagel, now director of the Institute of Experimental Immunology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, "discovered the phenomena that the rest of us have been trying to understand since 1974," says Harvard University immunologist Don Wiley.
Doherty and Zinkernagel discovered that white blood cells must identify simultaneously a viral invader and proteins on the body's own immune cells. "Everyone had just assumed that it was the virus alone that caused the immune response," says Doherty, now chair of immunology at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. "No one had really thought that the body's own cells were involved." Doherty attributes his success to bold thinking and a little luck. "You have to keep an open mind and be willing to step outside the paradigms," he says. "It turns out that we made a couple of good guesses."