Prince Mahidol Award winners announced

national November 17, 2016 01:00

By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
THE NATION

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British researchers win this year for medical breakthroughs.



TWO SCIENTISTS from the United Kingdom and Canada have won this year’s Prince Mahidol Award for their breakthroughs in antibody humanisation and stroke prevention. 

The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital and the Foreign Ministry announced yesterday that Sir Gregory Paul Winter from Trinity College at Cambridge University and Dr Vladimir Hachinski from Canada’s Western Ontario University were this year’s winners.

Dr Prasit Watanapa, dean of Siriraj Hospital’s Faculty of Medicine, congratulated the winners, saying their dedication and breakthroughs would help improve medical technology and healthcare not just in their own countries but also globally. 

“The award was initiated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej to mark his father Prince Mahidol Adulyadej’s 100th anniversary in 1992. The aim is to award people or organisations that have done excellent work on medical science and healthcare for the benefit of humanity,” Prasit said. 

“This year, we gladly announce that Sir Gregory Paul Winter, a prominent researcher on antibody humanisation, and Dr Vladimir Hachinski, a world leader on stroke and vascular dementia treatment and prevention, were nominated for this year’s award, as their work has successfully progressed better healthcare for mankind,” he added.

Siriraj Medical School’s Neurology Division professor Dr Yongchai Nilanont said that Thailand would also profit from the medical breakthroughs. 

“Their work also inspires us to move forward in our medical research and treatment. For instance, Hachinski’s work raises awareness of stroke prevention and cure in our country and helps push our research on neurological diseases,” Yonchai said. 

“Stroke is one of the main causes for death in the world, including in Thailand, and it’s second only to cancer. One in three stroke patients die. This is why his work is very important,” he added. 

Winter’s award-winning research on antibody humanisation allows antibodies made from molecules, most commonly from mice cells, to be used in humans without provoking a harmful immune response, helping to cure many diseases such as cancer and immunodeficiency with minor side effects.

In earlier attempts, antibodies derived from mice cells were often rejected by the human immune response. Through Winter’s research, which won the award in the field of medicine, more than 50 types of antibodies have already been registered with at least three new drugs being created every year. 

Meanwhile, Hachinski, who won the award in the field of public health, is a leading researcher on strokes and brain vascular diseases. His work has helped to boost awareness about strokes and help to save lives by encouraging early treatment. 

Dr Suphat Wanichkarn, secretary-general of the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, said there were 59 nominees for the award this year. 

The winners will receive a medal and a US$100,000 (Bt3.5-million) award from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at the Grand Palace on January 30.

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