Bruce A. Beutler

Robert Koch Award 2004, together with Jules A. Hoffmann and Shizuo Akira

The Robert Koch Foundation has awarded the 2004 Robert Koch Prize, endowed for the first time with €100,000, in equal parts to Professor Jules A. Hoffmann, Professor Bruce A. Beutler and Professor Shizuo Akira. The scientists received the prize for their ground-breaking research into the molecular mechanisms underlying signal recognition, signal transduction and effector functions in innate immunity.

The prize-winner, Professor Bruce A. Beutler (46), of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, USA, showed that TLR-4 in the body is the binding site for endotoxins. Endotoxins are bacterial toxins which indirectly cause fever as a result of the mobilization of the body’s own messenger substances such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Beutler demonstrated that antibodies to TNF provide protection against endotoxin shock. The specific blockade of TLR-4 could potentially be a new therapeutic approach.