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Award for Biochemical Analysis goes to scientists for the development of the high-resolution lipid profile and for the discovery of the causes of the development of vaccine-induced cerebral vein thrombosis

Biosaxony Management

Mannheim, 12 October 2022
Fats (lipids) play a major role in the human organism, but have so far been insufficiently researched. Lipids include, for example, cholesterol and its esters, triglycerides, fat-soluble vitamins, hormones or waxes. In addition to DNA and proteins, lipids represent an important class of substances in their own. The totality of all lipids, the lipidome, comprises over 100,000 different lipids in the human body. Of these molecules, more than 2,000 have already been linked to human health status and disease. For example, they have an important role in metabolic regulation: at the cellular level to energy management and communication.

Together, Kai Simons and Andrej Shevchenko developed the 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 takes place simultaneously from a sample. Molecule by molecule is broken down down to the individual fatty acid building blocks of the lipids and a molecular signature of the lipidome is created. Since shotgun lipidomics is also suitable for high-throughput, the method can be used for molecular diagnostics, where groundbreaking observations have already been achieved, for example in metabolic disorders.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Greinacher and his research team discovered the cause of "VITT syndrome the vaccine-induced immunogenic thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT)", which occurs after vaccination with adenovirus vector-based COVID-19 vaccines. The Greifswald studies show that a protein from platelets, platelet factor 4 (PF4), interacts with components of the vaccine. The resulting change in PF4 is recognized by antibody-producing cells of the immune system and these cells then begin to produce antibodies against the body's own protein. These antibodies activate blood cells. The result: In some rare cases, there were clumps in the blood of the vaccinated and triggered a cerebral vein thrombosis. This coagulation activation is mediated by a specific receptor, the Fcg receptor IIA, which can be blocked by administering intravenous immunoglobulins, which are available in any hospital. With the discovery of "VITT syndrome", the development of a detection method, the clarification of the mechanism and the identification of effective drugs for treatment within a few weeks severe complication rates were reduced by more than 90 percent.

Parallel to the research result, the scientists presented the medically positive news: The antibodies disappear within a few months. Those affected can be safely vaccinated a second time without the antibodies being formed again and they have to fear a dangerous cerebral vein thrombosis.

The research result is particularly relevant for countries that only have the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Prof. Harald Renz, President of the German Society for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine: "We are happy to be able to honour three world-renowned scientists who absolutely meet the demanding requirements associated with awarding the prize. Their scientific contribution sets standards in chemical analysis and helps to improve the health care of millions of people."

Rainer Schuster, Member of the Board of Management for Sales & Development at SARSTEDT AG & Co. KG: "SARSTEDT has been supporting outstanding scientific achievements with the prize for biomedical analysis for many years. As a globally active company with product solutions for medicine and science, we want to honor successful research activities whose results contribute to the improvement of health care and medical diagnostics. We are very pleased to be able to support this research prize of 50,000 and would like to congratulate this year's winners for their extraordinary achievements.

Half of the prize money goes to Prof. Dr. med. Andreas Greinacher as well as Prof. Dr. Kai Simons and Dr. Andrej Shevchenko.
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