Bettencourt Prize: Renowned award for Veit Hornung

Dec 14, 2018

The immunologist Professor Veit Hornung of the LMU Gene Center has been awarded the Liliane Bettencourt Prize for Life Sciences for his research on mechanisms of the innate immune system to recognize "alien" molecular patterns.

Its natural defense mechanism allows the body to respond directly to infections - such as inflammation, an important defense strategy of the human immune system. Central to this are certain receptors of the innate immune system, which are specialized in recognizing "foreign" molecular patterns of viruses or bacteria. The activation of these receptors initiates defense mechanisms that then aim to fight these pathogens. But it can also lead to a faulty activation of these systems, if these receptors react to the body's own signals. The organism then behaves as if it is actually attacked by pathogens, although this is not the case. This erroneous activation can eventually lead to chronic inflammatory diseases, such as occur in rheumatoid arthritis. Also diseases that are typically associated with a "western lifestyle", such as arteriosclerosis or childhood sugar, are compounded by misguided inflammatory processes. Veit Hornung attempts to understand the molecular mechanisms and triggers that are effective in distinguishing between foreign and intrinsic through the innate immune system. This understanding could allow the development of therapeutic approaches that can help prevent certain chronic diseases.

Each year, the French Fondation Bettencourt Schueller awards the Liliane Bettencourt Prize for Life Sciences to researchers of up to 45 years of age who have gained importance in the international scientific community through their outstanding publications in the field of life sciences.

The prize is endowed with 300,000 euros.

The Fondation Bettencourt Schueller was founded in 1987 with the aim of promoting research in the life sciences.