Antonio Lanzavecchia receives the 2017 Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award

Antonio Lanzavecchia (photo by Alessandro Crinari)
Antonio Lanzavecchia (photo by Alessandro Crinari)

Institutional Communication Service

19 December 2017

Antonio Lanzavecchia, Director of the IRB and Professor at the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences has been honored with the 2017 Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award. Antonio Lanzavecchia was rewarded for his research on the role of human monoclonal antibodies in the fight against malaria, demonstrating thus real scientific progress in the life sciences. 

Antonio Lanzavecchia received the international award along with Michel C. Nussenzweig from the Rockefeller University and Jeffrey I. Gordon of Washington University. The three laureates received their Awards during a ceremony that took place on December 12 at the Institut Pasteur (Paris) in the presence of Prof. Stewart Cole, President of the Institut Pasteur, and Olivier Brandicourt, Chief Executive Officer at Sanofi, and members of the Jury. 


New antibodies against malaria

The malaria parasite eludes the immune system by using the technique of the "chameleon", that is,by  constantly changing its protein structure. Antonio Lanzavecchia and his team have recently discovered a new class of antibodies capable of recognising the different forms of malaria. Unlike conventional antibodies, these new antibodies are produced by a new molecular mechanism based on the insertion of DNA fragments from other chromosomes. This research has unveiled a new immunity mechanism and paves the way for the creation of new vaccines and treatments against pathogens.


The Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Awards

The Pasteur Institute is a French non-profit private foundation dedicated to the study of biology, microorganisms, diseases, and vaccines. It is named after its founder and first director, Louis Pasteur, who made some of the greatest breakthroughs in modern medicine at the time, including pasteurization and vaccines for anthrax and rabies – the latter in 1885. Today the Institute is considered one of the most important in the world for research on infective diseases. Sanofi is a French multinational pharmaceutical company, formed in 2004 by the merge of Aventis and Sanofi-Synthélabo, which were each the product of several previous mergers: l'Oréal (Synthélabo) and Elf Aquitaine (Sanofi). Sanofi is the world leader in the production of human vaccines. 

Created in 2012, the Sanofi–Institut Pasteur Awards are the result of a historical and privileged collaboration between two partners, Sanofi and the Institut Pasteur, to promote and support scientific excellence and innovation in service of global health. The Jury is composed of esteemed members, all of them recipients of distinguished prizes, including Nobel Prizes of Physiology and Medicine.


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