US, Japanese pair win Nobel Medicine Prize for cancer therapy

US, Japanese pair win Nobel Medicine Prize for cancer therapy

US, Japanese pair win Nobel Medicine Prize for cancer therapy

According to MD Anderson, Allison's crucial insight was to block a protein on T cells that acts as a brake on their activation, freeing the T cells to attack cancer. Tasuku Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells and revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action.

"Allison and Honjo showed how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer", it said. Dr. Allison's work has led to new and effective cancer therapies that free the immune system to attack tumors, a breakthrough called immune checkpoint blockade. "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".

The American Cancer Society's chief medical officer says he and colleagues gave a celebratory toast to Allison at a party on Friday - days before the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Medicine - because they agreed this could be his year. To take CTLA-4 as an example, Allison's work was part of a sequence of advances starting before Ron Schwartz and Marc Jenkins' work on costimulatory signals and running beyond Nils Lonberg's involvement in the development of the ipilimumab molecule. By releasing that brake, Honjo's research had found a "strikingly effective" treatment against cancer.

While Allison was working on CTLA-4, Honjo and his colleagues were studying another T-cell protein called PD-1, or programed death-1, which they identified in 1992. The platform also collaborates with pharmaceutical companies to help them develop new drugs and combinations to better treat cancer. "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". He announced about a year later that he no longer needed treatment.

In a statement to reporters after learning of his award, Allison said he was "honored and humbled".

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Prof Honjo said the award came "completely out of the blue" and "of course, I was very happy, delighted at the same time, but shocked".

Commenting on Monday's award, Dan Davis, an immunologist at Britain's University of Manchester, said "this game-changing cancer therapy" has "sparked a revolution in thinking about the many other ways in which the immune system can be harnessed or unleashed to fight cancer and other illnesses".

Allison started his career at MD Anderson in 1977, arriving as one of the first employees of a new basic science research center located in Smithville, Texas. The academy hopes to award both the 2018 prize and the 2019 literature prize next year.

The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were created in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901.

Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes to be handed out each year.

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