Immune pioneers share Nobel prize for medicine

STOCKHOLM – Three scientists who “revolutionised” understanding of how the body fights infection have shared this year’s Nobel prize for medicine, the BBC said. Bruce Beutler, of the US, Jules Hoffmann from Luxembourg and Ralph Steinman from Canada shared the prize. Profs Beutler and Hoffman discovered how the body’s first line of defence was activated. Prof Steinman discovered the dendritic cell, which helps defeat infection.

The Nobel prize committee said: “Together Bruce Beutler, Jules Hoffmann and Ralph Steinman have revolutionised understanding of the immune system by discovering key principles for its activation. They have opened up new avenues for prevention and therapy.”

However, it has emerged that Steinman died of pancreatic cancer last week. The honour is not normally given posthumously. The award committee has not commented, but was expected to release a statement later yesterday.

The committee is to announce its award for achievement in physics today and then in chemistry. The most anticipated of the honours, the Nobel Peace Prize, will be announced on Friday.

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