ibusinesslines.com November 18, 2018

Japanese, American researchers win Nobel prize in medicine for cancer research

01 October 2018, 04:38 | Melissa Porter

Japanese, American researchers win Nobel prize in medicine for cancer research

Japanese, American researchers win Nobel prize in medicine for cancer research

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been jointly awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo, by the Nobel committee of the Karolinska Institute. It represents a completely new principle, because unlike the previous strategies it is not based on targeting the cancer cells, but rather the brakes, the checkpoints, of the host immune system. He realised the potential of releasing the brake and unleashing our immune cells to attack tumours, the official Twitter page of the Nobel Prize said.

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 first anti-PD-1 drugs were pembrolizumab (Merck's Keytruda), and nivolumab (Bristol-Myers Sqibb's Opdivo), both initially approved in 2014 for the treatment of melanoma: Both block the PD-1 (programmed cell death 1) protein on the surface of the immune system T cells, with the result that those cells attack and, sometimes, eliminate the tumor. For many scientists, he said, a driving motivation "is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge".

"For more than 100 years, scientists attempted to engage the immune system in the fight against cancer". He now works at Houston's M.D. "Until the seminal discoveries by the two laureates, progress into clinical development was modest", the Nobel jury said.

"In some patients, this therapy is remarkably effective", Jeremy Berg, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, told The Associated Press. "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".

The literature prize will not be handed out this year after the awarding body was hit by a sexual misconduct scandal.

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.

The Nobel Prize for physics is set to be announced on Tuesday.

The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded in Oslo on Friday, while the announcement of the economics prize will cap off this year's Nobel season on October 8.

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