Researchers from the U.S., Japan win Nobel for cancer research

Researchers from the U.S., Japan win Nobel for cancer research

Two immunologists, James Allison of the U.S. and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for research into how the body's natural defences can fight cancer, the jury said on Monday.

"Allison and Honjo showed how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer", the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said, on awarding 9 million Swedish crowns ($1.28 million Cdn).

The two scientists have been awarded the prize for their discovery that the body's immune system can be harnessed to attack cancer cells.

Allison, professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, worked on a protein known as CTLA-4 and realised that if this could be blocked, a brake would be released, unleashing immune cells to attack tumours.

The scientists' work in the 1990s has since swiftly led to new and dramatically improved therapies for cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer, which had previously been extremely hard to treat.

According to his website, Honjo discovered a key protein - Programmed Cell Death Protein 1 - in controlling whether cells live or die, a central process in determining whether cells become cancerous and grow into tumors or behave normally. Such treatment is also called "checkpoint therapy", a term that inspired the name of the Checkpoints, a musical group of cancer researchers in which Allison plays harmonica.

"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".

White House says not 'micromanaging' Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of Kavanaugh
Kavanugh has denied the accusations from Ramirez and Swetnik and has said emphatically that he never abused or assaulted anyone. In dueling appearances last Thursday, he and Ford told their stories during sworn testimony before the Senate Committee.

Berg said that former President Jimmy Carter's cancer, which had spread to his brain, was treated with one of the drugs developed from Honjo's work. "The number of different types of cancers for which this approach to immunotherapy is being found to be effective in at least some patients continues to grow".

They winners will receive their prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of Alfred Nobel, who created the prizes in his last will and testament.

"However, advanced cancer remains immensely hard to treat, and novel therapeutic strategies are desperately needed", the Nobel Assembly said.

Last year, United States geneticists Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young were awarded the medicine prize for their research on the role of genes in setting the "circadian clock" which regulates sleep and eating patterns, hormones and body temperature.

Monday's announcement represents only the latest instance in which a current or former Scripps Research scientist has been awarded the Nobel Prize.

Other cancer treatments have been awarded Nobel prizes, including hormone treatment for prostate cancer in 1966, chemotherapy in 1988 and bone marrow transplants for leukemia in 1990.

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