US scientist gets tech award for intelligent drug delivery

June 11th, 2008 - 11:39 pm ICT by IANS  

By Jaideep Sarin
Helsinki (Finland), June 11 (IANS) The world’s biggest technology award, the euro 1.15 million 2008 Millennium Technology Prize, was Wednesday conferred on Robert Langer of the US for his innovative creation of biomaterials for controlled drug release. The award was conferred on Langer, touted as the father of the controller drug delivery and tissue engineering, by Finland’s President Tarja Halonen at a ceremony at the Finlandia hall here before a select gathering of scientists, industry representatives and others.

Langer’s innovations have made a significant impact on lives of people, especially patients suffering from cancer, heart ailments and other diseases.

Advanced drug delivery systems operative in the medical world today are owing to the research carried out by Langer and over 100 million people are said to have benefited from it already.

The award, instituted in 2004 and given every two years by the Technology Academy in Finland, Finnish technology industry and the government, and supported by mobile giant Nokia and Finnish airline Finnair, is reckoned as the unofficial Nobel prize in the field of technology.

Langer’s research has brought significant advances in tissue engineering, especially synthetic replacement of biological tissues like artificial skin. He has been referred to as “one of history’s most prolific inventors in medicine”.

“Tissue engineering holds the promise of creating virtually any new tissue or organ. In future, we might see organs like liver and pancreas being replaced though there is still time for that to start happening,” the scientist said.

Langer, associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), bagged the euro 800,000 award ahead of five other technology prize laureates whose three innovations were also in the fray.

These included the team of Emmanuel Desurvire, Randy Giles and David Payne who had created the erbium-doped fibre amplifier which helps in communication transfer across continents, the unique DNA fingerprinting technique developed by British scientist Sir Alec Jeffreys and US scientist Andrew Viterbi’s algorithm that has helped all modern wireless communication systems including the present mobile technology.

All other laureates got 115,000 euros in prize money.

“This technology award is unique. We want to acknowledge and honour those who have made significant impact to the lives of mankind,” Finland’s Technology Academy chairman Stig Gustavson.

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