The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2018 has been awarded jointly to James P Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their 'discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation'.
The academy said that this year’s Nobel Prize constitutes a landmark in the fight against cancer. "The discovery made by the two Medicine Laureates takes advantage of the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells by releasing the brakes on immune cells."
Allison studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system. He realised the potential of releasing the brake and unleashing our immune cells to attack tumours. He developed this concept into a new approach for treating patients.
Tasuku Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells and revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer.
"Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. By stimulating the ability of our immune system to attack tumour cells, this year’s Nobel Prize laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy."
Just in! Nobel Laureate Tasuku Honjo, surrounded by his team at Kyoto University, immediately after hearing the news that he had been awarded the 2018 #NobelPrize in Physiology or Medicine. pic.twitter.com/8TdlnXiSLe
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 1, 2018
"Until the discoveries made by the 2018 Medicine Laureates, progress into clinical development was modest. 'Immune checkpoint therapy' has revolutionised cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed."