As reported in a press release in PR Newswire
; in Stockholm this week, Dan Kastner received the Crafoord Prize, one of the top achievements in science worldwide, after his work on rare diseases affecting the immune system led him to establish a whole new category of diseases: autoinflammatory disorders.
The chair of the prize, Olle Kämpe, said that Kastner is often credited as the father of autoinflammatory conditions. He has earned this title due to his discoveries within the function and innerworkings of the immune system. The knowledge that he has given to the medical world has allowed for effective treatments that have greatly improved the quality of life of patients.
Kastner discovered the concept of autoinflammatory diseases, a type of rare autoimmune diseases, characterized by attacks on the body by its own immune system. Dan Kastner first found his way into his own niche set of diseases through his eye for genetics. He became an expert in the rare familial Mediterranean fever and TRAPs.
Before Kastner, doctors puzzled over the strange set of symptoms plaguing some who were coming to them for help—plagued by persistent fevers, joint inflammation, abdominal pain, rashes, and aches and pains in the muscles. What later came to be known as familial Mediterranean fever had not yet been identified as a unique disease.
Kastner began to examine the unusual symptoms. While the prevalence was notably uncommon, the higher incidence in some regions of the world indicated a genetic origin. Finally, Kastner found a single gene mutation linking patients of the entire disorder.
Familial Mediterranean fever, affecting around one in a thousand people in eastern Mediterranean, began to be understood as an autoimmune disorder, but operating with unique mechanisms. Kastner went on to uncover the obscure mechanisms underlying a host of other genetic diseases, including TRAPS and other similar disorders.
His New Category
His recognition of the uniqueness of these disease’s mechanisms paved the way to his notable achievement: the institutionalization of a never before understood category of diseases: autoinflammatory diseases.
Like other autoimmune disorders, autoinflammatory diseases are caused by attacks perpetrated by the body’s own immune system. However, uniquely, this subcategory is specifically due to a malfunction inside of the immune system itself. Kastner’s depth of study gave novel insights into the rare category of autoimmune diseases.
The Crafoord Prize
In 2021, Kastners findings earned him one of the highest achievements in the academic community. The Crafoord Prize complements the Nobel Prizes in subject matter, with new subjects featured each year. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will not only award him with the honor, but he also receives a lofty financial benefit of around $700,000USD. They contend his work has brought progress in the treatment of these rare diseases and brought insights into the entire workings of the immune system.
Dan Kastner said,
“The phone call from the Academy took me totally by surprise, and I must confess to having been almost speechless when I was told the wonderful news. I can’t begin to express how much of an honor it is to be the recipient of this year’s Crafoord Prize. I owe so much to my patients, to my colleagues in the clinic and in the laboratory, and of course to my family, all of whom did so much to make this possible.”