Science

Nobel Prize awarded in physics

Nobel Prize awarded in physics

This year's Nobel Prize recipients will be revealed starting Monday with the prize for medicine or physiology.

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet inSweden yesterday awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Dr. James P. Allison (an American from Texas) and Dr. Tasuku Honjo (a Japanese from Kyoto) for their discovery of "cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation".

"I'm honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition", Allison said.

Last year's prize went to researchers in the United States, Switzerland and Britain who developed a microscope technique that lets scientists see details of the molecules that drive life. "I didn't set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells, these incredible cells that travel our bodies and work to protect us".

Tap here to watch an animation on how it works.

Lanier, who like Allison is a center director for the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, says he is thrilled that such basic research was recognized. He now works at Houston's M.D. The "therapy has now revolutionized cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed".

The discovery has led to a new type of cancer treatment called immunotherapy.




Cancer cells use these immune checkpoints to hide and evade from immune cells, tipping the balance in favour of the cancer and turning each immune cell off. Checkpoint inhibitor drugs work by not allowing the brakes to come on, so the immune system can keep attacking the cancer.

Honjo, who has been linked to Kyoto University since 1984, discovered PD-1, an immune system cell protein which also prevents tumors from being attacked. They're called checkpoint inhibitors because they can turn these key proteins that control the immune response on or off.

His drug, known commercially as Yervoy, became the first to extend the survival of patients with late-stage melanoma. 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.

"At that time, I never thought it would lead to a drug to treat cancer", Honjo said. "They are living proof of the power of basic science", he said in a statement.

In 2015, Allison won the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award honoring investigators whose contributions have improved clinical treatment.

Research by Allison's team has meanwhile led to the development of a monoclonal antibody drug, which was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011 for the treatment of melanoma. Many checkpoint therapy trials are now underway against most types of cancer, and new checkpoint proteins are being tested as targets.

While chemotherapy destroys cancerous cells along with normal cells -often with toxic and debilitating effects on a patient - immunotherapy unleashes the body´s immune system to target tumour cells. They also show promise for lung cancer, kidney cancer and lymphoma. "They have used the molecular understanding we have of the evolutionary process and recreated the process in their labs", the head of the Academy's Nobel Chemistry committee, Claes Gustafsson, told reporters.


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