Cancer immunotherapy researchers win Nobel Prize
New York: The 2018 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was awarded Monday to James P. Allison of the United States and Tasuku Honjo of Japan for their work on unleashing the immune system’s ability to attack cancer, a breakthrough in developing new cancer treatments.
Nobel Prizes in Medicine awarded from 1901 to 2017
“The seminal discoveries by the two Laureates constitute a landmark in our fight against cancer,” the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said as it awarded the prize of nine million Swedish crowns (Dh3.67 million; $1 million).
“Allison and Honjo showed how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer,” it said.
The treatments, often referred to as “immune checkpoint therapy”, have “fundamentally changed the outcome for certain groups of patients with advanced cancer”, it added.
Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year.
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.
The literature prize will not be handed out this year after the awarding body was hit by a sexual misconduct scandal. Allison and Honjo’s work had both worked on proteins that act as brakes on the immune system — preventing the body and its main immune cells, known as T-cells, from attacking tumour cells effectively.
The research honoured with today’s Nobel Prize paid off for at least one very famous patient: former US president Jimmy Carter. He was diagnosed in 2015 with the skin cancer melanoma, which had spread to his brain. He was treated with a drug inspired by the research of new Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo, and announced in 2016 that he no longer needed treatment.