Herman Waldmann has successfully re-engineered the immune system to combat a variety of disorders, including leukaemia and multiple sclerosis, as well as to reduce the risk of rejection and graft versus host disease in organ transplants. Herman’s work led to the first use of a humanised antibody as a clinical therapy.
He developed a monoclonal antibody against an antigen on the surface of human T cells, a branch of the immune system that helps to destroy pathogens and foreign tissue. Originally raised in rats, the antibody was later ‘humanised’ in collaboration with biochemist Greg Winter, and used to deplete T cells in bone marrow before transplantation into cancer patients.
Herman encouraged the clinical application of his discovery, founding a centre for the production of clinical-grade antibodies and launching biotech companies. Now named alemtuzumab, the treatment is produced commercially by a large pharmaceutical company and was approved for use in multiple sclerosis in 2014.
Interest and expertise
Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology
For pioneering monoclonal antibodies for human therapy.