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Athena Prize Goes to Cancer Vaccine

Sweden’s Athena Prize, healthcare’s largest prize for clinical research, was awarded this year to physician and Associate Professor Alex Karlsson-Parra, of Uppsala University Hospital and founder of the company Immunicum. The company specializes in developing therapeutic cancer vaccines.

The prize, which consists of a research grant of $150 000, was awarded in December at the Swedish Society of Medicine National Conference.

Karlsson-Parra, together with some employees, devoted 15 years of research to the development of a therapeutic cancer vaccine, which causes foreign immune cells to activate the patient’s own tumor-specific immune response. Unlike other cancer vaccines that use the patient’s own immune cells, in this case, white blood cells from healthy blood donors were used.  Immune cells are grown out to dendritic cells activated by an immunological shock treatment.