Cancer Researchers Win 2018 Nobel Prize For Medicine

Former Scripps Research postdoc wins Nobel Prize in medicine

Former Scripps Research postdoc wins Nobel Prize in medicine

The Nobel Prize laureates for Medicine or Physiology 2018 are James P. Allison, US, and Tasuku Honjo, Japan, presented at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on Monday.

James P Allison of the United States and Tasuku Honjo of Japan won the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for research that has revolutionised the treatment of cancer, the jury said on Monday. Research by Allison at the University of Texas in the USA and Honjo at Japan's Kyoto University explored how the body's immune system can be harnessed to attack cancer cells by releasing the brakes on immune cells.

The scientists' work led to treatments targeting proteins made by some immune system cells that act as a "brake" on the body's natural defenses eradicating cancer cells.

By releasing the brake via an antibody that binds to and thus disables CTLA-4, he discovered in the 1990s, it was possible to unleash immune cells to swarm and kill tumors.

Allison, 70, of the University of Texas Austin, studied a known protein and developed the concept into a new treatment approach. Called PD-1, this protein, he found, functions as a T-cell brake but via a different mechanism than CTLA-4 uses. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer. Such treatment is also called "checkpoint therapy", a term that inspired the name of the Checkpoints, a musical group of cancer researchers in which Allison plays harmonica.

"I'm honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition", Allison said in a statement released by the university's MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he is a professor.

"With another postdoc I did some side experiments on how tumors are recognized by the immune system", Allison told the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2016.

"For more than 100 years, scientists attempted to engage the immune system in the fight against cancer". It was because of a sexual misconduct scandal that led to the decision was the Nobel assembly.

No Nobel Literature Prize is being given this year because the Swedish Academy, the body that choses the literature victor, has been in turmoil after sex abuse and financial scandal allegations. The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were created in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901.

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