Two Chinese Scientists Win The Szent-Györgyi Prize for Contributions To Leukemia Research

Two Chinese scientists have been awarded the 7th Annual Szent-Györgyi Prize by the National Foundation for Cancer Research for their contributions to leukemia research.

AsianScientist (Jan. 26, 2012) – Dr. Zhen-Yi Wang and Dr. Zhu Chen have been awarded the 7th Annual Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research by the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) for their contributions to acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) research.

By combining traditional Chinese medicine with Western medicine, Drs. Wang and Chen provided dramatic improvement in the five-year disease-free survival rate of APL patients – from approximately 25 to 95 percent – making this therapy a standard of care for APL treatment throughout the world, and turning one of the most fatal diseases into a highly curable one.

“I am so glad to see that the efforts we have devoted to research on leukemia these last several decades have led to solid clinical benefits to APL patients around the world,” said Dr. Wang.

“This is a great honor for Dr. Wang and me; it is quite humbling to know that our respected colleagues from many scientific disciplines have selected us for this prestigious award,” said Dr. Chen, who also serves as China’s Minister of Health.

A clinical researcher at the Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai in the early 1980s, Dr. Zhen-Yi Wang performed the first successful therapy on APL patients using all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), which significantly increased the survival rate of patients with APL.

Chen, a former student of Wang, made major contributions to the identification of the molecular mechanisms of both ATRA and arsenic trioxide in APL. Chen demonstrated in clinical trials that arsenic trioxide, a compound used as a traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,400 years, is effective against APL.

Since the 1990s, Drs. Wang and Chen have worked together to conduct clinical trials combining ATRA and arsenic trioxide to treat APL patients, with great success.

“Drs. Wang and Chen have quite literally changed the face of medicine for patients suffering from APL. Their combined work has saved countless lives and will continue to save many more lives around the world both today and in future generations,” said Dr. Beatrice Mintz, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Chair of the 7th Selection Committee and winner of last year’s prize.

The prize, which includes a US$25,000 honorarium, will be presented to Dr. Wang and Dr. Chen at an award ceremony March 6, 2012 at The Westin Times Square in New York City.

Dr. Wang is currently a professor at the Medical School of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Dr. Chen currently serves as Minister of Health for the People’s Republic of China and holds a professorship at the School of Medicine of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.


Source: NFCR.
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