James Allison and Tasuku Honjo win Nobel Prize in Medicine
The American James Allison and the Japanese Tasuku Honjo received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2018 for their innovative approach to cancer treatment.
The Nobel Committee said the couple’s search – which uses the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells – is “an important step in our fight against cancer.” This approach, known as immune checkpoint theory, has “revolutionized and radically changed cancer treatment as we see how cancer can be treated,” the committee said.
Allison said on Monday that his son called at 5:30 am and told him first that he had won. Later that morning, the Nobel Committee called Mr. Allison.
“I’m still in a kind of shock and it’s still going down,” Allison said.
“The Nobel committee told me this morning that it’s the first price for cancer treatment,” he said. “I want to ask all cancer patients to let them know we’re making progress now.”
Allison, president of immunology and executive director of the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, has been studying a protein that slows down the immune system. The release of the brake allowed the immune cells to attack the tumors, he discovered.
The discovery has led to effective treatments, notably some blocking treatments called immune control.
“I’m a fundamental scientist, I did not take these studies to cure cancer, I was interested in them because I wanted to know how T cells work,” Allison said.
According to the National Cancer Institute, T cells, a type of white blood cell, are part of the immune system and help protect the body from infection and can help fight cancer.
Allison’s work led to the development of the first immune checkpoint inhibitor, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Ipilimumab, which bears the brand name Yervoy, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for Late Melanoma in 2011 and was the first to prolong the survival of patients with advanced melanoma.
Now Ipilimumab is also approved for the treatment of colon cancer and a type of kidney cancer called renal cell cancer and is being studied for the treatment of other cancers.
Allison plans to continue her research by focusing on the complexity of the immune system’s response to cancer and identifying new targets for potential treatment.
In December, Allison is honored at the Nobel Peace Awards in Stockholm – and looks forward to her colleague Honjo in Stockholm.
Just in! Nobel Laureate Tasuku Honjo, surrounded by his team at Kyoto University, immediately after hearing the news that he had been awarded the 2018 #NobelPrize in Physiology or Medicine. pic.twitter.com/8TdlnXiSLe
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 1, 2018
Honjo, who had worked as a professor at Kyoto University in Japan for the last 34 years, discovered a protein on immune cells and showed how even this can work as a break, but with a different action. Therapies based on this method have also proven effective in the fight against cancer.
“Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of the biggest challenges to human health,” the Nobel Committee said on Twitter.
“By strengthening our immune system against cancer cells, this year’s Nobel Prize winners have established a completely new cancer treatment approach.”
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded 108 times to 214 Nobel Prize winners between 1901 and 2017.
Also on Monday, a French photographer was sentenced to two years in prison for rape in the scandal that led to the unprecedented renewal of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2018.