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HOME > News & Topics > Topics > FY 2010 > Prof. Shizuo Akira of IFReC was awarded "The Canada Gairdner International Award".

Prof. Shizuo Akira of IFReC was awarded "The Canada Gairdner International Award".

The Canada Gairdner International Award which are recognized as among the most prestigious awards in biomedical science.
The Gairdner Foundation announced on March 23 that Dr. Shizuo Akira (Director of IFReC), Dr. Jules A. Hoffmann (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Strasbourg, France), and three other scientists are awarded The Canada Gairdner International Award 2011.

Awarded for
"For revolutionizing our understanding of innate resistance to infection in the animal kingdom by discovering the role of Toll-like receptors and the array of microbial compounds that they recognize and respond to."

The discovery
Dr. Akira discovered Toll-like receptors act as a sensor for microbes and activate anti-microbial defenses, essentially mobilizing the immune system to fight infection. He discovered that these receptors recognize specific microbes, where we previously thought that the immune system attacked microbes in a non-specific manner.
Identifying the role of these Toll-like receptors provided insight into the immune system's first line of defense against microbial infection, as well as how inflammatory responses work during infection. More importantly, this work found that these Toll-like receptors are essential to adaptive immunity, where the immune system 'remembers' specific invading pathogens, so that it can mobilize more quickly and effectively if that pathogen invades in the future.

As a result of the discovery that Toll-like receptor activation leads to adaptive immunity, a variety of therapies activating and de-activating Toll-like receptors are now in clinical trial for vaccines, cancer immunotherapy, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and septic shock. This work can lead directly to more effective vaccines against bacterial and viral infection, as well as cancer.

-Overview for the achievements of Prof. Akira

-The Gairdner Foundation

-Akira Lab.