Japanese Scientist Honoured for Cancer Research -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

Taniguchi is professor and chairman of the Department of Immunology, Graduate School of Medicine and Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan. He will receive the 10th annual Pezcoller Foundation-American Association for Cancer Research International Award for Cancer Research, which includes a cash prize of €75,000 and a medallion.

"Dr. Taniguchi is truly a pioneer in cancer research at the molecular level," said AACR chief executive officer Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.). "By unravelling the complex mechanisms by which the human body defends itself against disease, he broadened exponentially our understanding of cancer and our capacity to treat cancer successfully.

"Among his many contributions to cancer research," Foti added, "Dr. Taniguchi discovered interferon regulatory factors, a family of transcription factors that are involved in programmed cell death and tumour suppression, and have important implications for cancer therapy."

In the late 1970s, he identified the human interferon-beta gene, making it possible to elucidate for the first time the complete primary structure of a cytokine: At the same time, the structure of interferon-alpha was elucidated by his mentor Charles Weissmann in Zurich, and together they went on to demonstrate that interferon-alpha and interferon-beta constitute a gene family.

Later, they also identified and characterized a human interleukin gene, the IL-2 gene. Interferons and interleukins both are produced naturally in the body and can improve the body's natural response to infection and disease. Taniguchi then discovered a novel family of transcription factors, the IRF family, and elucidated the critical functions of these factors in immunity and oncogenesis.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Association for Cancer Research