The biochemist Prof. Dr. Kai Simons and the analytical chemist Dr Andrej Shevchenko, as well as the transfusion medicine specialist Prof. Dr. Andreas Greinacher, will receive this year's research prize for biochemical analysis.
The 50,000-euro prize sponsored by SARSTEDT AG & Co. KG is awarded in equal parts to the respective research areas.
The prize is usually awarded every two years by the German Society for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Klinische Chemie und Laboratoriumsmedizin e.V., DGKL) and has been sponsored by SARSTEDT AG & Co. KG since 2008. Outstanding individuals such as Nobel Prize winner Emmanuelle Charpentier (2020) and current Nobel Prize winner Svante Pääbo have already been honoured with this prize.
DGKL President Prof. Dr. Harald Renz and Rainer Schuster, SARSTEDT AG & Co. KG Executive Board Member for Sales/Research and Development, presented the prize on Thursday 13 October 2022 as part of the opening of this year's annual meeting of the DGKL in Mannheim. Rainer Schuster once again emphasised that for SARSTEDT it is a great honour and joy to support scientific research and teaching for improving health care and medical diagnostics. As early as 1986, we began to reward scientific work and have so far awarded the SARSTEDT Research Award six times. We have now supported the DGKL Research Prize for Biochemical Analysis with a total of 50,000 euros for the seventh time in a row since 2008.
Professor Dr. Simons and Dr. Shevchenko are receiving the award for their jointly developed and globally unique quantitative shotgun lipidomics platform. The method, which is based on high-resolution mass spectrometry, enables highly sensitive and absolute-quantitative analyses of lipid molecules from small amounts of cells, tissues and body fluids. The quantification of several thousand different lipid molecules from a sample takes place simultaneously. Thus, molecule by molecule is broken down to the individual fatty acid building blocks of the lipids, and a molecular signature of the lipidome is formed. Since shotgun lipidomics is also suitable for high throughput, the method can be used for molecular diagnostics, where ground-breaking observations have already been made, for example, in metabolic disorders.
Professor Andreas Greinacher and his research team discovered the cause of “VITT syndrome - vaccine-induced immunogenic thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT)”, which occurs after a vaccination with adenovirus vector-based COVID-19 vaccines. The investigations, conducted by the team from Greifswald, show that a blood platelet protein, platelet factor 4 (PF4), interacts with components of the vaccine. The altered PF4 is recognised by the immune system’s antibody-forming cells which begin to produce antibodies against the body’s own protein. These antibodies activate blood cells. The result was that, in rare cases, clots formed in the blood of vaccinated people which triggered cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. The activation of the clot is mediated by a specific receptor, the Fcg receptor IIA, which can be blocked by administering intravenous immunoglobulins available in every hospital. The discovery of “VITT syndrome”, the development of a detection method, the clarification of the mechanism, and the identification of effective treatment drugs – all within a matter of weeks – meant that severe complication rates could be reduced by more than 90 per cent.