James Allison, Tasuku Honjo win Nobel Prize for cancer research

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

Allison and Tasuku Honjo have won this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their pioneering work in the relatively new field of cancer immunotherapy.

Jim Allison, Ph.D., a scientist at MD Anderson and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, it was announced on October 1.

Honjo discovered the protein, PD-1, that acts as a brake on the immune system in 1992.

In a statement released on Monday, the Nobel Assembly said the seminal discoveries of the Japanese and American scientists "constitute a landmark in our fight against cancer". "I didn't set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells, these incredible cells to travel our bodies and work to protect us".

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'. Born on August 7, 1948, Dr Allison's discoveries have led to breakthroughs in the treatment of the deadliest of cancers. 10 Facts About Cancer You Need to Know by World Health Organization (WHO). Ipilimumab, now known as Yervoy, showed unprecedented results and was approved in 2011 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Dr. Goldstein also said immunotherapy can control from 20 percent to 50 percent of certain advanced melanomas, "which is something considering that situation would have been a death sentence not too long ago".

Allison, 70, who was in NY hotel for a scientific meeting, said at a news conference that the Nobel committee evidently had trouble reaching him to break the news.

"For more than 100 years, scientists attempted to engage the immune system in the fight against cancer".

"We need these drugs to work for more people". The platform also collaborates with pharmaceutical companies to help them develop new drugs and combinations to better treat cancer.

Honjo has said that since his college days the six C's of curiosity, courage, challenge, confidence, concentration and continuation were his driving force in research that led to the development of drugs that opened up new cancer treatments. Before protein inhibitors were invented cancer treatments were restricted to surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. "Then to have that work recognized by the Nobel Committee is going to bring attention to the issues, the importance of basic science, and that there is hope for cancer patients". "They are living proof of the power of basic science", he said in a statement.

While in theory it should work for most forms of cancer, it´s most effective on those with the highest numbers of mutations such as melanomas, lung cancer and smoking, he added. Honjo is credited with discovering PD-1 and also recognising the importance of blocking its function as a potential cancer treatment.

This year's prize is 9 million Swedish krona (about 1 million USA dollars).

The Nobel Assembly of the Karolinska Institute — 50 professors at the Stockholm facility — chooses the victor or winners of the prize honoring research into the microscopic mechanisms of life and ways to fend off invaders that cut it short.

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