Published: Tue, October 02, 2018
Medicine | By Rogelio Lindsey

Allison and Honjo win 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for cancer research

Allison and Honjo win 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for cancer research

Allison also is deputy director of the David H Koch Center for Applied Research of Genitourinary Cancers at MD Anderson and holds the Vivian L. Smith Distinguished Chair in Immunology.

James P Allison of the U.S. and Tasuku Honjo of Japan won the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for research that has revolutionised the treatment of cancer, the jury said on Monday.

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

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.

"I'm honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition", Allison said in a written statement. "One challenge is that the clinical success has outrun our scientific knowledge of how these drugs work and how they might best be combined with other therapies to improve treatment and reduce unwanted side effects".

The scientists based in Houston and Kyoto will share the prize worth more than $1 million.

"Allison and Honjo showed how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer", the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said in a statement on awarding the prize of 9 million Swedish crowns ($1 million).

It was a rare award for a key cancer breakthrough, in this case the discovery that the immune system can be tweaked to unleash tumor-attacking T cells. In a key mouse experiment around Christmas 1994, Allison found that when mice with cancer were treated with CTLA-4-blocking antibodies, they were cured.

Many of Allison's patients are alive and cancer free because of his approach.

Perlmann said he had not yet managed to contact Allison. "The significance of immunotherapy as a form of cancer treatment will be felt for generations to come".

The list of other possible awardees included a number of American researchers including Arlene Sharpe and Gordon Freeman at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Jedd Wolchok at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; and Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania, who pioneered another approach to immunotherapy.

"It's a great, emotional privilege to meet cancer patients who've been successfully treated with immune checkpoint blockade", he added.

Like this: