STOCKHOLM - Three scientists who unlocked secrets of the body's immune system, opening doors to new vaccines and cancer treatments, won the 2011 Nobel prize for medicine on Monday.
American Bruce Beutler and French biologist Jules Hoffmann, who studied the first stages of immune responses to attack, share the $1.5 million award with Canadian-born Ralph Steinman, whose discovery of dendritic cells in the 1970s is key to understanding the body's next line of defense against disease.
"This year's Nobel laureates have revolutionized our understanding of the immune system by discovering key principles for its activation," the award panel at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said in a statement in Stockholm.
Lars Klareskog, who chairs the prize-giving Nobel Assembly, told Reuters: "I am very excited about what these discoveries mean. I think that we will have new, better vaccines against microbes and that is very much needed now with the increased resistance against antibiotics."