American, Japanese win Nobel for lifesaving cancer research
American, Japanese win Nobel for lifesaving cancer research
Nobel prize laureates James P. Allison left and Tasuku Honjo are shown during the presentation in Stockholm on Oct. 1
01 October, 2018, 17:39
American James Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine on Monday for game-changing discoveries about how to harness and manipulate the immune system to fight cancer. Lower left: Antibodies (green) against CTLA-4 block the function of the brake leading to activation of T cells and attack on cancer cells.Upper right: PD-1 is another T-cell brake that inhibits T-cell activation. One cancer doctor said "an untold number of lives. have been saved by the science that they pioneered".
"Because this approach targets immune cells rather than specific tumors, it holds great promise to thwart diverse cancers", the Lasker Foundation wrote when it awarded Allison its 2015 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.
Allison studied a protein that acts as a brake on the immune system and the potential of releasing that brake. In 1982, while working at The University of Texas System Cancer Center, Allison made a breakthrough discovery - identifying the T-cell antigen receptor, which allows T cells to recognize an unusual protein on the surface of another cell.
Dr. Allison is chair of Immunology and executive director of MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program's Immunotherapy platform.
Today, immunotherapies based on Allison and Honjo's research work especially well for fighting advanced and aggressive tumors. Lanier says he often spent Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with Allison in the mid-1990s, and remembers Allison talking about the initial experiments that showed him CTLA-4 could fight cancer in mice. "A comment like that makes me happier than any prize", he said.
Thanks to Allison's doggedness, anti-CTLA-4 therapy is now an accepted therapy for cancer and it opened the floodgates for a slew of new immunotherapies, Krummel said.
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