Immune System Cancer Researchers Win Nobel Prize in Medicine

A screen displays portraits of James Allison and Tasuku Honju winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine during a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on Oct 1 2018

Immunologists James Allison of the United States and Tasuko Honjo of Japan won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for research in how the body's natural defenses can fight the scourge of cancer.

"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 (776,207 pounds).

Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy targets proteins made by some immune system cells, as well as some cancer cells. He developed this concept into a new approach for treating patients. The therapies based on their research has proved to be more effective in fighting cancer cells.

Allison's research was conducted at the University of California, Berkeley. 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. A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge. He is now active at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"In some patients, this therapy is remarkably effective", Jeremy Berg, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, told The Associated Press.

Last year's prize went to three Americans for work in identifying genes and proteins that work in the body's biological clock, which affects functions such as sleep patterns, blood pressure and eating habits.

"While most researchers investigating cancer immunology were advocating vaccines to turn "on" T cells to drive antitumor immune responses, Dr. Allison was proposing the opposite-to block the "off" signal, according to the ASCO Post, a newspaper that covers cancer research". It was because of a sexual misconduct scandal that led to the decision was the Nobel assembly.

The academy hopes to award both the 2018 prize and the 2019 literature prize next year.

The Nobel Prize in Physics is to be announced Tuesday, followed by chemistry. The economics laureate, which is not technically a Nobel but is given in honor of Alfred Nobel, the prizes' founder, will be announced next Monday.

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