2013 Axel Hirsch Prize awarded to stem cell researcher in Ophthalmology
Anders Kvanta, Chief Physician at the St. Erik Eye Hospital and Adjunct Professor of Ophthalmology at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet is awarded this year's Axel Hirsch Prize. He is given the award for research which lays the foundation for treating one of our most common retinal diseases.
Anders Kvanta's research has made it possible to treat one of the two variants of macular degeneration, and has made great advances towards treating the other variant. The disease has a wet and a dry form. It primarily affects the elderly, often resulting in severe visual impairment or blindness.
The wet version can now be treated, and Anders Kvanta is currently working on finding therapies for the more severe dry version. This version causes retinal cells to die, which meant that it has previously been considered untreatable. But stem cell technology provides new possibilities.
Anders Kvanta and his research team collaborates with the Karolinska Institutet stem cell unit in Huddinge. They are looking for a solution by transplanting differentiated embryonic stem cells that can replace dead cells in the retina. Through molecular and cell biological studies as well as through pre-clinical animal models, they are trying to identify new molecules that are relevant to retinal neovascularization and necrosis.
"Through his consistent long-term research, Anders Kvanta has shed light on the retinal diseases which threaten vision and provided unique contributions towards the last decade's greatest advances in the field. He has also created a multi-disciplinary, ground-breaking research platform for treatment of age-related macular degeneration using human embryonic stem cells", says professor Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren, Dean of Research at Karolinska Institutet.
The Axel Hirsch Prize is awarded annually by the Board of Research at Karolinska Institutet, in "recognition for a scientific article of high value, published by a Swedish scientist". Prize winners are chosen through nomination.
Anders Kvanta receives the Prize in conjunction with Karolinska Institutet's installation ceremony on 20 October 2013.