American-Japanese duo wins 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for landmark cancer research

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded jointly to James P Allison and Tasuku Honjo for discovery of...

- Two researchers from the United States and Japan won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for discoveries that help the body marshal its cellular troops to attack invading cancers.

The 9-million-kronor (US$1.01 million) prize will be shared by James Allison of the University of Texas and Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University. By releasing this brake, the body's own immune system can be stimulated to attack tumors. Honjo's research led to the clinical development of treating cancer patients by targeting that protein.

Around the same time, Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells, the ligand PD-1, and eventually realised that it also worked a brake, but it acted differently.

"Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer", the assembly said in a statement. "Immune checkpoint therapy" has revolutionised cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed", the Nobel committee stated. And more recently, scientists have found that combining the two targets can be even more effective in cancer treatment, particularly in combating melanoma.

"By stimulating the ability of our immune system to attack tumor cells, this year's #NobelPrize laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy".

Therapy developed from Honjo's work led to long-term remission in patients with metastatic cancer that had been considered essentially untreatable, the Nobel Assembly said.

YouTube app now displays HDR videos on iPhone XS and XS Max
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They will receive their prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal 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.

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

For an in-depth listen about the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, look for the Scientific American Science Talk podcast later today.

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.

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

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