Clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Dynavax Technologies has announced that Dr. Robert L. Coffman, the company's chief scientific officer, and his former collaborator, Dr. Tim R. Mossman, have been awarded the 2013 Novartis Prize for Basic Immunology for their pioneering research defining subsets of immune system T cells that have advanced the understanding of infectious, autoimmune, and allergic diseases.
In the 1980s, while working collaboratively at DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., Coffman and Mossman determined the distinct functions of two T-helper cell subsets: Th1 cells, which play a significant role in cellular immunity that is critical for resistance to infections; and Th2 cells, which can induce allergic diseases. The two doctors also discovered that dysregulation of Th1 and Th2 cell functions was implicated in various immunological diseases.
The fundamental discovery made by Mossman and Coffman, regarding the specific types of T cells that helped either cellular or humoral (antibody-mediated) immunity, changed the way the immune system's workings are understood and also led to major advances in the design of therapies for infectious, inflammatory and allergic diseases, as well as in vaccine design.
The award ceremony for the Novartis Prize will take place on Aug. 23 at the 15th International Congress of Immunology, held in Milan, Italy. The Novartis Prizes for Immunology, established in 1990, are awarded every three years for groundbreaking contributions to the fields of basic and clinical immunology, as judged by an independent panel of experts.
For more information about Dynavax, visit www.dynavax.com
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