Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Nobel Prize Goes to Cancer Immunotherapy Pioneers

2018 Nobel prize for medicine goes to cancer researchers-James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo Nobel Prize for Medicine jointly awarded to two cancer researchers from US and Japan
| 04 October, 2018, 14:19

Honjo and Allison will split the Nobel prize amount of 9 million in Swedish krona, or $1.01 million.

The Guardian reports that the scientists' discoveries have "paved the way for a new class of cancer drugs that are already dramatically changing outcomes for patients". In 2011 a drug based on CTLA-4, ipilimumab, was approved for treating melanoma.

This combination created on October 1, 2018 of a file picture taken on September 18, 2014 in Taipei shows Tasuku Honjo (L) of Japan and James P Allison (R) of the US. The main focus of their research was to make sense of how cancer rendered the immune system weak and how the immune system could be enabled to fight back against the tumor.

In a statement to reporters after learning of his award, Allison said he was "honored and humbled". From 1974-1977 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, La Jolla, California.

"That's the mission for a country, but Japan lags behind (other countries)", said the deputy director-general of the university's Institute for Advanced Study, who shared the prize on Monday with American scientist James Allison. "Until the seminal discoveries by the two laureates, progress into clinical development was modest", the Nobel jury said.

Allison studied Urba's research, then developed a drug in the fight against cancer. In a key mouse experiment around Christmas 1994, Allison found that when mice with cancer were treated with CTLA-4-blocking antibodies, they were cured. "I didn't set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells, these incredible cells that travel our bodies and work to protect us", he added.

Nobel Prize for Medicine jointly awarded to two cancer researchers from US and Japan
Tasuku Honjo Wins 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

No Nobel in literature is being given this year because the Swedish Academy, the body that selects the victor, has been in turmoil after sex abuse and financial scandal allegations.

Meanwhile, in parallel, Honjo was responsible for the discovery of a protein on immune cells called PD-1. Carter announced in 2016 that he no longer needed treatment.

His research also inspired the name of the Checkpoints, a musical group of cancer researchers for which Allison plays harmonica. Many checkpoint therapy trials are now underway against most types of cancer, and new checkpoint proteins are being tested as targets.

Dr. Allison told a news conference he was in a "state of shock" hours after learning from his son that he had won a Nobel prize.

The winners of 2018 physics prize will be announced on Tuesday, followed by the chemistry prize on Wednesday.

The scandal has led to a bitter internal dispute that has prevented the Academy from functioning properly, and as a result it postponed this year's Literature Prize until 2019 - the first time the prize has been delayed since 1949.


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