ibusinesslines.com October 16, 2018

Who is Nobel Medicine Prize victor Tasuku Honjo?

03 October 2018, 07:14 | Justin Tyler

The Local's Europe editor Catherine Edwards interviewing Jonas Bergh of the Nobel Assembly

The Local's Europe editor Catherine Edwards interviewing Jonas Bergh of the Nobel Assembly

Two scientists, James Allison and Tasuku Honjo have jointly been awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for a "landmark" cancer breakthrough.

Honjo, who has been a professor at Kyoto University since 1984, separately discovered a second protein on immune cells and revealed that it too operated as a brake, but with a different mechanism.

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'. Treatments that focus on the immune system or immunotherapy is widely acknowledged as one of the most exciting potential treatments for cancer.

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

The prize recognizes Allison's basic science discoveries on the biology of T cells, the adaptive immune system's soldiers, and his invention of immune checkpoint blockade to treat cancer. "Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer".

The two scientists will share the 9 million Swedish kronor ($1.01 million) that comes with the prize.

Both Allison and Honjo discovered distinct proteins that were responsible for blocking the immune response: CTLA-4 and PD-1. James Allison was born in Texas and is the current professor and chair of Immunology and executive director of immunotherapy platform at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

A functioning immune system is able to distinguish friend from foe in a precarious balancing act. On top of that, Arnault also has been suspected of violating century-old Nobel rules by leaking names of winners of the prestigious award - allegedly seven times, starting in 1996. Just last week, such a drug was approved for treatment of another kind of skin cancer called squamous cell cancer, he said. He developed this concept into a new approach for treating patients.

A revolutionary cancer treatment pioneered by the winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize for Medicine has been hailed as the future of fighting the disease - and it has fewer devastating side effects than chemotherapy. So far, as I've written, such therapies have led to spectacular and unprecedented remissions in a subset of patients with certain types of advanced cancer, but have fallen far short of that goal in most patients.

"He told me, 'Thanks to you I can play golf again.'.That was a blissful moment".

There are myriad immune checkpoint proteins on the surface of immune cells and normal cells of the body to allow this regulation to occur. It's been the most successful attempt yet to rid cancer patients of life-threatening tumours and, ultimately, the disease itself. "They are living proof of the power of basic science", he added. In May, the academy announced that no prize would be awarded this year.

"The booming field of immunotherapy that these discoveries have precipitated is still relatively in its infancy, so it´s exciting to consider how this research will progress in the future", said Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK´s chief clinician.

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