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Breast cancer test wins gong at European Inventor Awards


Credit: Ailish O Hora

Developments in science, electronics and medical science received gongs at the European Inventor Awards in Paris today.

Laura van't Veer from the Netherlands was the prize in the small business section for the invention of a gene-based tissue test which makes it possible to offer targeted treatment for breast cancer.

It provides women in the early stage of breast cancer with a reliable prognosis as to whether chemotherapy is actually necessary.

The technology has already helped over 40 000 women with treatment for cancer.


The awards took place in Paris today at an event attended by over 400 people.

Andreas Manz of Switzerland was given the Lifetime achievement category for the invention of microlab chip technology.

European Patents Office President Benoît Battistelli said: "The inventiveness and creativity of the award winners highlight Europe's role as a prime technology region for inventors from all over the world."

Other winners included Ludwik Leibler (France) who was honoured for the invention of vitrimers: a new class of plastics which has the potential to stem the mountains The material can be repaired easily and is completely recyclable. In the solid state the new glass-like plastic is stable, but when heated it can be repeatedly shaped and turned into complex objects by welding.

Franz Amtmann (Austria) and Philippe Maugars (France), together with their teams at Dutch company NXP Semiconductors, received the award for their contribution to the development of Near Field Communication (NFC) - a contact-free, secure technology for data transfer between mobile devices.

In the outside Europe sector,Sumio Iijima, Akira Koshio and Masako Yudasaka (Japan) received the award for the discovery of carbon nanotubes, a previously unknown structural form of carbon, and for the development of a sustainable process to produce them. Carbon nanotubes make computers faster, car and aircraft parts more stable, and solar modules more efficient.

Ian Frazer (Australia) and the late Jian Zhou (China) received the popular prize for their invention of the world's first vaccine against cervical cancer. Gardasil  protects girls and women from the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV), and has already saved the lives of large numbers of women worldwide. The popular prize is decided solely by the public who pick their favourite from among the15 finalists in an online poll.

The European Inventor Award, now in its 10th year, was founded by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2006,. The EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe.

Online Editors