The Nobel Medicine Prize has been awarded this year to two scientists who discovered in 1975 how the immune system recognises and can then kill virus-infected cells.
The work, by Peter Doherty, an Australian, and Rolf Zinkernagel, a Swiss, at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra could have important applications in curing diseases like cancer, diabetes, Aids and multiple sclerosis.
Sten Grillner, chairman of the Nobel medicine committee, said the discovery changed the direction of immunology, unlocking the mystery of how a vaccine needed to be composed.
The work was relevant both to efforts to strengthen the immune response against invading micro-organisms and certain forms of cancer, and to lessen the effects of auto-immune reactions in inflammatory diseases like rheumatic conditions, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. Charles Arthur