James P. Allison (70) of the US and Tasuku Honjo (76) of Japan were awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their pioneering work to fight against cancer.
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet recognized the pair for discovering a cancer therapy by inhibiting negative immune regulation, which comes as a breakthrough in developing new cancer treatments.
‘Cancer treatment generally consists of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. However, with their work, a fourth class of treatment has been developed.’
In the 1990s, Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo, working separately, showed how certain proteins act as "brakes" on the immune system's T-cells and can limit their ability to attack cancer cells. Hence, suppressing these proteins can help transform the body's ability to fight cancer.
Cancer treatment generally consists of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. However, with their work, a fourth class of treatment has been developed, i.e., harnessing the immune system.
The Nobel committee at the Karolinska Institute called it as "an entirely new principle for cancer therapy."
Dr. Honjo is a longtime professor at the Kyoto University and Dr. Allison is the Chairman of immunology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.