Munich, Dec 07, 2020
For the PHOENIX Pharmaceutical Science Award, researchers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland submit their contributions in four categories. An independent jury under the direction of Professor Dr. Jörg Kreuter, Goethe University Frankfurt, examines the submitted work and awards the prizes in the fields of pharmacology and clinical pharmacy, pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmaceutical technology and pharmaceutical biology.
In addition to the winners for pharmacology and clinical pharmacy (Prof. Hans-Uwe Simon, University of Bern), pharmaceutical chemistry (Prof. Bernhard Wünsch, University of Münster) and pharmaceutical biology (Prof. Shu-Ming Li, University of Marburg), Prof. Olivia Merkel from LMU Munich was awarded the Phoenix Science Prize in Pharmaceutical Technology for her publication "Coming in and Finding Out: Blending Receptor-Targeted Delivery and Efficient Endosomal Escape in a Novel Bio-Responsive siRNA Delivery System for Gene Knockdown in Pulmonary T Cells" (Published in: Advanced Therapeutics 2 , 7, 2019).
The award-winning work describes therapeutic approaches for RNA interference (RNAi), which offers the potential for the selective silencing of disease-related genes in certain cell types. However, the implementation of this in routine clinical practice is still associated with many hurdles due to the lack of suitable carrier systems for therapeutic siRNA, which silences these genes. The research team has now developed a novel, improved siRNA delivery system. The main aim of the publication is to optimize the targeted T cell transfection in the lungs in order to develop better asthma therapies that combat the cause of the disease and not just the symptoms. In addition, the results are also of great importance for T-cell therapy using CAR-T-cells and for the area of T-cell engineering.
Instead of the award ceremony at a gala, the award was presented to the scientists this year on a small scale at the universities. A camera team accompanied the award ceremony in Munich, and the resulting film offers insights into the research of the award winner.