Nobel Medicine Prize awarded to duo for cancer research

01 October, 2018, 18:45 | Author: Israel Montgomery

American Allison studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system.

Honjo, professor at Kyoto University since 1984, separately discovered a second protein called PD-1 and found that it too acted as an immune system brake, but with a different mechanism.

The two immunologists - from the US and Japan, respectively - were awarded the Prize "for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation".

Allison's and Honjo's work focused on proteins that act as brakes on the immune system - preventing the body's main immune cells, known as T-cells, from attacking tumors effectively.

Also on Monday, a French photographer at the center of the scandal that led to the unprecedented postponement of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature was sentenced to two years in prison for rape.

In the early 1990s, Allison had been studying a protein called CTLA-4, which sits in the outer layer - the membrane - of an active T-cell and behaves like an off-switch. The result is dramatically improved outcomes for some cancer patients and an explosion of research into ways to build on progress made to date.

Antibodies against PD-1 have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as an investigational new drug and developed for the treatment of cancer.

"I never dreamed my research would take the direction it has", Allison adds.

"This year's #NobelPrize constitutes a landmark in our fight against cancer".

"Targeted therapies don't cure cancer, but immunotherapy is curative, which is why many consider it the biggest advance in a generation", Allison said in a 2015 interview.

More news: Manchester United dismiss Zinedine Zidane rumours as nonsense sources

The discoveries by Allison, 70, and Honjo, 76, "absolutely paved the way for a new approach to cancer treatment", Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of the melanoma and immunotherapeutics service at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY, told The Associated Press. Carter announced in 2016 that he no longer needed treatment.

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".

"I'm honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition", Allison said in a written statement.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, a close friend of Allison's, said the Nobel committee usually waits about ten years to make sure a scientific discovery "sticks as being really important".

"I want to continue my research... so that this immune therapy will save more cancer patients than ever", he told reporters at the University of Kyoto where he is based.

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 prizes for physics, chemistry, and peace will also be announced this week.

Meanwhile, the fact that the literature prize will not be handed over this year has grabbed several headlines.

Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year.

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