Published: Mon, October 01, 2018
Medicine | By Ray Hunter

American-Japanese duo wins 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for landmark cancer research

American-Japanese duo wins 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for landmark cancer research

The victor of the Nobel Peace Prize will be named Friday.

Mr Allison, a professor at the University of Texas, and Mr Honjo, a professor at Kyoto University, in 2014 won the Tang Prize, touted as Asia's version of the Nobels, for their research.

James P Allison of U.S., who jointly won the Nobel Medicine Prize with Tasaku Honjo of Japan for their discovery of cancer therapy by "inhibition of negative immune regulation", was intrigued by the immune system right from the time when he was an undergraduate and chose to dedicate his life's work to understand how it worked.

"By stimulating the ability of our immune system to attack tumor cells, this year's #NobelPrize laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy". "He then developed this concept into a brand new approach for treating patients".

Their discovery led to a "landmark in our fight against cancer", according to a statement from the Nobel Assembly of Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

The results were astounding - tumors disappeared. Their approach, known as immune checkpoint theory, had "revolutionized cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed", the committee said. "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". "We congratulate him on this highly deserved honor".


"I'm honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition", Allison said in a statement. "There were a lot of smart people to work with, and it felt like we could do nearly anything". The Nobel Committee members said they are hopeful that combinations of these drugs and other therapies will allow more cancer patients to benefit with fewer side effects.

Charles Swanton, chief clinician at the charity Cancer Research UK, said the scientists' work had revolutionized cancer and immunotherapy.

Allison, who is the chair of Immunology and executive director of the Immunotherapy Platform, is the first MD Anderson scientist to receive the world's most coveted award for discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine.

"His actions helped create the superb research environment here, which is so conducive to making the fundamental discoveries that will be the basis of the next generation of medical breakthroughs", Raulet said. An immunologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin, he focused on a type of immune system cell called the T cell or T lymphocyte, which plays a key role in fighting off bacterial and viral infections as well as cancer.

"I never dreamed my research would take the direction it has", Allison adds. Allison's success with CTLA-4 in cancer persuaded Honjo to consider his molecule in cancer as well-and he found PD-1 therapy was even safer and more effective against a number of cancers, including lung cancer, which kills about 150,000 Americans a year. This attitude rubbed off on the team.

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