As COVID-19’s global rampage continues, countries around the world are in a race to develop not only effective vaccines but also promising therapies. The 2020 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science is jointly awarded to Dr. Charles Dinarello, university professor of the University of Colorado, Dr. Marc Feldmann, professor emeritus at the University of Oxford, and Dr. Tadamitsu Kishimoto, former president of Osaka University, for their groundbreaking discoveries about three cytokines critically involved in the pathogenesis of various autoimmune diseases—interleukin-1(IL-1), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and interleukin-6 (IL-6). They made great contributions to our understanding of these diseases and facilitated the development of cytokine-targeting biologics that help alleviate the pain of patients suffering from debilitating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriasis. The Tang Prize Foundation, in collaboration with Experimental Biology of the US and Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University, will stage the 2020 Tang Prize Masters’ Forum for Biopharmaceutical Science at 9a.m., Taiwan time (GMT+8), on September 22, and livestream it on the Foundation’s website (https://www.tang-prize.org/en/week.php?cat=94 ), with both Mandarin and English settings available.
Titled “Targeting the Hyperactive Immune System, from Autoimmune Disease to Cytokine Storms,” this forum will be co-hosted by Prof. Yun Yen, president emeritus of Taipei Medical University, and Prof. Shaw-Jeng Sean Tsai, chair professor in the Department of Physiology at National Cheng Kung University. In addition to the lectures delivered by three 2020 awardees, 2014 Tang Prize and 2018 Nobel Prize winners Dr. James P. Allison and Prof. Tasuku Honjo will also take part. Taking advantage of videoconferencing technology, we will offer a platform for audiences in Taiwan and around the globe to engage and interact with the speakers and panelists either on-site or online. Let’s go down memory lane together to see how scientists managed to identify the cause of autoimmune diseases, while also looking forward to potential treatments for “cytokine storms” induced by overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and often inflicted upon severe COVID-19 patients.
As people gravely ill with COVID-19 can suffer from aggressive immune responses to the coronavirus that will result in great damage to their bodies, Dr. Dinarello will talk about treatments that stop the immune system from going into overdrive and also current clinical trials that block IL-1. Dr. Feldmann will share his research on TNF that has transformed the way we treat inflammatory diseases and address the question about whether targeting TNF can help treat COVID-19 patients. Dr. Kishimoto will update us on COVID-19 patients’ reaction to tocilizumab, a monoclonal anti-IL-6 receptor antibody he helped develop.
This pandemic has ushered mankind into a battleground where our war with a new virus has just begun. In the frantic search for knowledge and information about this latest enemy, much of the research has been closely bound up with cytokine functions and the inflammatory responses they can trigger. We therefore cordially invite you to join us on this learning curve to explore the mysteries about autoimmune disease and cytokine storms.