James Allison and Tasuku Honjo win Nobel Prize in Medicine

James Allison and Tasuku Honjo win Nobel Prize in Medicine

Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo showed releasing the brakes on the immune system can unleash its power to attack cancer.

Dr Allison was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research on a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system.

The discoveries by Allison and Honjo, 76, "absolutely paved the way for a new approach to cancer treatment", Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of the melanoma and immunotherapeutics service at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY, told The Associated Press.

The Nobel committee on Monday announced that the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to a US-Japanese pair for their landmark work in cancer research. "The significance of immunotherapy as a form of cancer treatment will be felt for generations to come", said MD Anderson President Peter WT Pisters. For years scientists have tried to conscript the immune system into the fight against cancer, but Allison's and Honjo's work are true breakthroughs that "revolutionized cancer treatment" and fundamentally changed how cancer is treated. Ipilimumab, which has the brand name Yervoy, was approved for late-stage melanoma by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2011 and became the first to extend the survival of patients with late-stage melanoma.

Checkpoint therapy using PD-1 has proven more effective and positive results are being seen in several types of cancer, including lung cancer, renal cancer, lymphoma and melanoma.

Honjo intends to donate his prize money to a foundation supporting young researchers, according to officials of Kyoto University.

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Dr Allison, 70, said he was "honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition".

Allison studied a known protein and developed the concept into a new treatment approach, while Honjo discovered a new protein that also operated as a brake on immune cells.

Allison's research was conducted at the University of California, Berkeley.

Other Nobel Prizes for 2018 will be announced from October 2 to October 8, 2018.

In the early 1990s, Allison had been studying a protein called CTLA-4, which sits in the outer layer - the membrane - of an active T-cell and behaves like an off-switch.

Today, immunotherapies based on Allison and Honjo's research work especially well for fighting advanced and aggressive tumors. The revolutionary treatment harnesses the body's own immune system to find and fight cancer.

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The Swedish Academy said that the work done by Drs.

They winners will receive their prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of Alfred Nobel, who created the prizes in his last will and testament. He is a professor at University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Centre.

Around the same time, Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells, the ligand PD-1, and eventually realised that it also worked as a brake but in a different way. Realising many of these drugs work best in conjunction with each other, collaborations between pharma companies have started to create even more effective treatments.

Honjo said he hopes to keep working on the research in an effort to save more cancer patients.

The discoveries led to greatly improved therapies for skin cancer, as well as cancers of the lung, head, neck, kidney and liver.

After the announcement of the winners, the supporters and well wishers started to celebrate the victory.

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