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Six researchers share SFr1 million prize

Research by Telenti and Trono found a link between human genetic differences and the effectiveness of aids treatments

(Keystone Archive)

Six scientific researchers from the Lake Geneva region are to share Leenaards Prize money worth over SFr1 million for their work in aids and diabetes.

The prestigious Leenaards Foundation handed three projects a SFr350,000 cheque each in an annual prize-giving aimed at encouraging scientific research.

First prize

The first Leenards Prize of SFr350,000 was awarded to Pierre Maechler from the Medical Faculty of Geneva and Urs Ruegg from Lausanne University for their research into diabetes and muscular dystrophy.

Maechler was recognised for his discovery of cellular production of insulin and his colleague in Lausanne for his study of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Their research traced calcium inside living cells, which is plays a fundamental role in diabetes and muscular dystrophy.

Second prize

The two other projects selected by the foundation investigated hereditary predispositions to certain infections, with a view to developing treatments.

Winners Amalio Telenti of Lausanne's University Hospital and Didier Trono of the Geneva University's Medical Centre concentrated on aids. They compared the genetic differences between aids-infected, zero-positive and healthy people.

Preliminary results found that the risk of contracting the virus, and the latency period varied widely from person to person. The effectiveness of anti-viral treatments also varied. The duo hope to develop specific therapies tailored to the genetic profile of the patient.

Third prize

The last of the prizes went to Thierry Roger from Lausanne's University Hospital and Jacques Schrenzel from Geneva University Hospital. They studied genetic mechanisms regulating immune defences in the hope of identifying intensive-care patients who risk dying from a septic shock.

swissinfo with agencies

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