James P. Allison, Tasuku Honjo jointly win 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Oct 1, 2018 16:06 IST
James P. Allison, Tasuku Honjo jointly win 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet on October 1, 2018 awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation”.

Cancer therapy: Releasing the brakes of immunity

Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. The laureates James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo successfully established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy by stimulating the ability of immune system to attack tumour cells.

Laureates showed how different strategies for slowing down the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer. Their discoveries are landmark in fight against cancer.

Until the discoveries made by Laureates, progress into clinical development was modest. “Immune checkpoint therapy” has revolutionised cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed.

Discovery of Tasuku Honjo

Tasuku Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells and revealed that it operates as a brake as well but with a different mechanism. Therapies based on this discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer.

Discovery of James P. Allison

Laureate James P. Allison studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system. He realised the potential of releasing the brake on immune cells to attack tumours. He developed this concept into a new approach for treating patients.

About Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

• The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine.

• It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will.

• The first Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded in 1901 to the German physiologist Emil von Behring for his work on serum therapy and the development of a vaccine against diphtheria.

• The first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was Gerty Cori, who received it in 1947 for her role in elucidating the metabolism of glucose.

 

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