Stuart A. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Del E. Webb Center for Neuroscience and Aging at The Burnham Institute, was awarded the prestigious Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine in ceremonies held May 14th in Hamburg, Germany. Endowed by German industrialist Ernst Jung, this international award is given annually in recognition of discoveries that have a major impact on experimental medicine. Dr. Lipton shares this year's award with Prof. Dr. Tobias Bonheoffer of the Max-Planck-Institut fur Neurobiologie, Munich-Martinsried. The co-recipients each received 125,000 Euros from the Jung-Stiftung fur Wissenschaft und Forschung.
Dr. Lipton is being honored for his "trailblazing research in the field of neuroscience and its diagnostic and therapeutic consequences". The award recognizes a series of discoveries from Dr. Lipton's laboratory, which has led to the development of a new paradigm for treating stroke and neurodegenerative diseases based on "neuroprotection", or protecting the brain from cell death. In most neurodegenerative diseases, the brain is attacked and nerve cells wither and die by a variety of overactive signaling pathways. These pathways signal important functions under "normal" conditions. Conventional treatments act by blocking the signals completely, which also blocks their intended function. Dr. Lipton discovered ways to control the gatekeeper receptor, NMDA, and moderate the activity through these pathways.
The prototype treatment based on Dr. Lipton's concept is a drug for Alzheimer's Disease. Dr. Lipton was the first to discover a unique mechanism of action for the drug Memantine, allowing it to work only on pathological conditions and not affect "normal" behavior. This discovery led to clinical development of Memantine and its subsequent approval by the European Union and the United States' Food and Drug Administration for treatment of Alzheimer's Disease as the first neuroprotective drug.
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