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Gregory Winter and Richard A. Lerner

Prince of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research 2012

At its meeting held in Oviedo, the Jury for the 2012 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, composed of Mr Juan Luis Arsuaga Ferreras, Mr Juan Ignacio Cirac Sasturáin, Mr Antonio Fernández-Rañada Menéndez de Luarca, Mr Luis Fernández-Vega Sanz, Ms Cristina Garmendia Mendizábal, Mr Santiago Grisolía García, Ms María del Rosario Heras Celemín, Mr Bernardo Hernández González, Mr Emilio Lora-Tamayo D’Ocón, Mr José Antonio Martínez Álvarez, Ms Petra Mateos-Aparicio Morales, Mr Amador Menéndez Velázquez, Mr Ginés Morata Pérez, Mr Enrique Moreno González, Mr César Nombela Cano, Mr Eduardo Punset Casals, Ms Marta Sanz-Solé, Mr Manuel Toharia Cortés, chaired by Mr Pedro Miguel Echenique Landiríbar and with Mr Vicente Gotor Santamaría acting as secretary, has unanimously decided to bestow the 2012 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research on the British biologist Gregory Winter and the US pathologist Richard A. Lerner for their decisive contributions to the field of immunology and, in particular, for obtaining antibodies of major therapeutic value.

Antibodies are an essential part of the immune system with an enormous ability to recognize what is a constitutive element of the organism and to defend it especially against foreign bodies. Winter has discovered the way to modify antibody-producing animal cells so that these can function in the human organism without being rejected. Lerner’s creation of combinatorial libraries of antibodies enables the construction of immunological repertoires far superior to those produced by the human immune system. As a result of their research, it is now possible to treat degenerative diseases and tumours with specifically designed antibodies, opening up new avenues for personalized medicine, preventive medicine and other applications such as chemical catalysis.

Oviedo, 31st May 2012

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