Chinese scientist receives Sjoberg Prize 2018 in Stockholm

Xinhua
China's cancer researcher Zhu Chen, together with two French researchers, received Sjoberg Prize 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden on Friday.
Xinhua

China's cancer researcher Chen Zhu, together with two French researchers, received Sjoberg Prize 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden on Friday.

After reading citation of their achievements by Goran K. Hansson, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Chen, together with Anne Dejean and Hugues de The, received Sjoberg prize from Svante Lindqvist, Swedish Marshal of the Realm, on Friday afternoon at Stockholm Concert Hall, where the Nobel Prizes are awarded annually.

"We used wisdom from both Chinese and Western medicine and offered a cure to one of the most deadly cancers," Chen told Xinhua, "I feel that Chinese medicine has potential to contribute more to human health."

"There are no borders in medicine, because it strives for benefiting all mankind. It's a language of peace and of development and progress," Chen emphasized, and recalled the cooperation with his French counterparts for over 30 years.

"We are very pleased to welcome this year's Sjoberg Prize Laureates here in Stockholm. Drs Chen Zhu, Anne Dejean and Hugues de The have revolutionized the treatment of leukemia and we are very proud to honor their contributions with this important Prize," Hansson told Xinhua.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced early February that Drs Chen Zhu, Anne Dejean and Hugues de The won The Sjoberg Prize 2018, for the unique treatment that cures a once fatal cancer.

According to a statement from the the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the prize was awarded to them "for the clarification of molecular mechanisms and the development of a revolutionary treatment for acute promyelocytic leukaemia".

This year's Sjoberg Laureates have developed a new and targeted treatment for a specific form of blood cancer called acute promyelocytic leukaemia. It was once one of the deadliest forms of cancer, but it is now possible to cure nine out of 10 patients who receive the new treatment, the release reads.

The treatment is unique because it is the first standard treatment for acute leukaemia that does not include chemotherapy. Instead, a combination treatment is used, which consists of a form of vitamin A, "all-trans retinoic acid," also called ATRA, along with arsenic trioxide.

The idea of using arsenic comes from traditional medicine, but this method has been scientifically tested and proven in this form. The Laureates have made this revolutionary development possible by methodically mapping the molecular mechanisms responsible for the disease.

By identifying a specific genetic mutation and aiding the destruction of a faulty protein in specific cells, it was possible to stop the process that resulted in death for three out of four patients. This treatment means the cancer cells disappear because they lose the ability to renew themselves.

These discoveries have been made in stages since the 1980s, and the treatment's effects have been confirmed in numerous scientific studies. In many countries, this treatment combination is now the first choice of treatment for acute promyelocytic leukaemia.

Chen, born in 1953 in China, is now a professor at the prestigious Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The prize is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and is funded by the Sjoberg Foundation. The foundation, with a donation of 2 billion Swedish krona (US$2.5 billion), was founded in 2016, and serves to promote scientific research that focuses on cancer, health and the environment.

The prize is an annual international prize in cancer research awarded to individual researchers or research groups. The prize amounts to US$1 million, of which US$100,000 is the prize sum and US$900,000 is funding for future research.

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