Niels K. Jerne
Born: 23 December 1911, London, United Kingdom
Died: 7 October 1994, Castillon-du-Gard, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: Basel Institute for Immunology, Basel, Switzerland
Prize motivation: "for theories concerning the specificity in development and control of the immune system and the discovery of the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies"
Prize share: 1/3
The immune system includes cells, lymphocytes and antibodies that neutralize substances foreign to the body, or antigens. In 1955 Niels Jerne asserted that all kinds of antibodies already have developed during the fetus stage and that the immune system functions through selection. In 1971 he asserted that lymphocytes teach themselves to recognize the body's own substances in the thymus gland. His 1974 network theory is based on the idea that antibodies not only attach themselves to an antigen, but also can become attached to other antibodies. An immunological reaction arises when an antigen disturbs the system's equilibrium.
"for their discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell mediated immune defence"
"for his discoveries relating to immunity"
"for his work on serum therapy, especially its application against diphtheria, by which he has opened a new road in the domain of medical science and thereby placed in the hands of the physician a victorious weapon against illness and deaths"