Professor Mantovani receives the Milstein Award

mantovani1Alberto Mantovani, Scientific Director of Humanitas and Professor at Humanitas University, has received the Milstein Award, the most important international award for research on cytokines and interferon. The Awards have been presented at the annual meeting of the International Cytokine & Interferon Society (ICIS) on October 11th.

What are cytokines?

Cytokines are small proteins generated by different types of cells and able to bind specific receptors on the cell membrane and to give cells specific instructions as the stimulus of growing, differentiating or dying. Immune-generated cytokines, as interleukines and chemokines, play a key role in the regulation and activation of our defenses and in inflammation.

Prof Mantovani has contributed to establish the function of interleukine-6 (IL-6) during the transition from acute to chronic inflammation. Mantovani and his team have also identified and explained how IL-1 decoy receptor works: the receptor binds the protein without allowing the signal emission and so inhibiting its action. This has had important clinical consequences: today it is in fact possible to stop inflammatory cytokines by converting their receptors into decoy receptors.

Alberto Mantovani‘s research has always been focused on immune defense mechanisms, especially the most primitives (innate immunity). In the late ‘70s his studies demonstrated the protumor function of tumor-associated macrophages, thus proving the existence of a inflammation-cancer connection.

Prof. Mantovani also discovered PTX3a paradigm for humoral innate immunity which acts as an extrinsic oncosuppressor regulating complement and macrophage driven tumor promoting inflammation. Clinical trials have already been activated.

About the Milstein Award

The Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research was established in 1988, two years after interferon was first approved for the treatment of hairy cell leukemia by Philip, Vivian e Connie Milstein, a family of philanthropists internationally known for its support to the research on cytokines and interferon.

Read more on the Milstein Award page.


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.