Allison and Tasuku Honjo Win 2018 Nobel Prize In Physiology or Medicine

Allison and Tasuku Honjo Win 2018 Nobel Prize In Physiology or Medicine

Allison and Tasuku Honjo Win 2018 Nobel Prize In Physiology or Medicine

The Nobel committee on Monday announced that the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to a US-Japanese pair for their landmark work in cancer research.

Allison, who is a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, was studying a protein called CTLA-4 that inhibits a person's immune system by putting the brakes on the actions of T cells.

He realized the potential of releasing the brake and unleashing immune cells to attack tumors. "The number of different types of cancers for which this approach to immunotherapy is being found to be effective in at least some patients continues to grow".

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Allison and Honjo discovered two different "brake" proteins that act slightly differently. "Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer", the prize committee said of his discovery. But he made a switch that changed his life and helped show the value of rallying the immune system to fight cancer.

"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".

"While most researchers investigating cancer immunology were advocating vaccines to turn "on" T cells to drive antitumor immune responses, Dr. Allison was proposing the opposite-to block the "off" signal, according to the ASCO Post, a newspaper that covers cancer research". A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge. "Until the seminal discoveries by the two laureates, progress into clinical development was modest", the Nobel jury said.

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Last year's prize went to three Americans for work in identifying genes and proteins that work in the body's biological clock, which affects functions such as sleep patterns, blood pressure and eating habits.

Therapy developed from Honjo's work led to long-term remission in patients with metastatic cancer that had been considered essentially untreatable, the Nobel Assembly said.

Other cancer treatments have been awarded Nobel prizes, including hormone treatment for prostate cancer in 1966, chemotherapy in 1988 and bone marrow transplants for leukemia in 1990.

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The announcement in Helsinki was the first of several prizes to be given out this week.

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