Winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize for Medicine Announcedadmin
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been jointly awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation,” The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet announced in a statement issued on Monday, Oct. 1.
James P. Allison is an American immunologist and the Chair of the Department of Immunology, the Vivan L. Smith Distinguished Chair in Immunology, Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Research, and Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Allison – to almost oversimplify his work – studied a known protein found in the biology of T cells that acts as a brake or checkpoint for the immune system. By blocking this protein, the T cells are free to attack cancer cells.
“I’m honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition. A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge. I didn’t set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells – these incredible cells travel to our bodies and work to protect us,” Allison said in a statement.
Tasuku Honjo is a Japanese immunologist who is best known for his identification of Programmed Cell Death Protein 1 (PD-1). This protein also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action. Honjo is a distinguished professor at Kyoto University and deputy director-general at the Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study (KUIAS). Inhibiting PD-1 was found to contribute to cancer treatment, with anti-PD-1 cancer immunotherapy now approved in the US, EU and Japan.
“I’m very honored and pleased to receive the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine,” Honjo said in a news conference. “I’d like to continue the study a bit more so that this immunotherapy can further assist cancer patients in the future. I hope this treatment will develop further, as researchers around the world are making efforts for such a purpose.”