American James Allison, Japan’s Tasuku Honjo Win 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine

01 October, 2018, 20:00 | Author: Cynthia Curry
  • James P Allison and Tasuku Honjo win Nobel prize for medicine

"The seminal discoveries by the two Laureates constitute a landmark in our fight against cancer", the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said as it awarded the prize of nine million Swedish crowns ($1 million).

Clinical studies document successful fights against melanoma, lymphoma, lung cancer and renal cancer, and further studies indicate therapy combining CTLA-4 and PD-1 treatments could be even more effective for melanoma patients.

It was a rare award for a key cancer breakthrough, in this case the discovery that the immune system can be tweaked to unleash tumor-attacking T cells. While the concept of tweaking the immune system to better fight cancer was first demonstrated more than a century ago, it wasn't until Allison's and Honjo's work in the 1990s that promising routes toward immunotherapies emerged.

Meanwhile Honjo, of Kyoto University in Japan, was studying a different immune brake called PD-1 (programmed cell death 1), according to Thomas Perlmann, secretary-general of the Nobel Committee, who spoke about the findings amid the prize announcement early Monday.

Unlike more traditional forms of cancer treatment that directly target cancer cells, Allison and Honjo figured out how to help the patient's own immune system tackle the cancer more quickly.

Allison and Tasuku Honjo won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their groundbreaking work in cancer immunotherapy. The peace prize will be announced on Friday, and the economics prize will wrap up the Nobel season next Monday. No literature prize is being given this year. "A succession of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and colleagues at MD Anderson, the University of California, Berkeley, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center played important roles in this research".

Today, immunotherapies based on Allison and Honjo's research work especially well for fighting advanced and aggressive tumors. Allison developed this idea into a new type of cancer treatment.

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Allison is the first MD Anderson scientist to receive the world's most preeminent award for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine.

"When Dana showed me the results, I was really surprised", Allison said.

The discoveries led to the creation of a multibillion-dollar market for new cancer medicines.

"It's a great, emotional privilege to meet cancer patients who've been successfully treated with immune checkpoint blockade".

The two scientists will share the 9 million Swedish kronor ($1.01 million) that comes with the prize. Lower right: Antibodies against PD-1 inhibit the function of the brake leading to activation of T cells and highly efficient attack on cancer cells.

Lanier adds he has nominated Allison for the Nobel several times, but that it probably took the committee some time to figure out who deserved to receive it alongside him.

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