Hergen Spits – 2021

Hergen Spits (UvA and Amsterdam UMC) conducts scientific research into B cells. These are the cells in the human body that make antibodies. To do this, he looks at people who have survived a virus infection or cancer. “The immune system of healthy people can help that of the vulnerable. For example, research into the RS virus, which mainly affects children, has come a long way. We isolated B cells from healthy adults who were not affected by the RS virus, which made it possible to make antibodies that neutralized the virus in vulnerable children. The license was transferred to the pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca twelve years ago. The RSV antibody has now successfully completed the required clinical trials and the company is expected to apply for a marketing authorization next year. So there is a good chance that the drug will become available to young children within two years. The great thing is that this B-cell technology can also be applied to other viral infections, such as flu, and even cancer.”

Photographer: Fred van Diem
Film maker: Caren Huygelen