New approaches in cancer treatment win 2018 Nobel prize in Medicine. American James Alisson and Japan’s Tasuku Honjo receive the coveted award this time as a pair.
The Nobel committee said the pair’s research — which harnesses the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells — amounted to a ‘landmark in our fight against cancer.’ Their approach, known as immune checkpoint theory, had ‘revolutionized cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed,’ the committee said.
Allison, a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system. Releasing the brake allowed immune cells to attack tumors, he found. The discovery led to effective treatments.
Honjo, who has worked as a professor at Kyoto University in Japan for the past 34 years, discovered a protein on immune cells and illustrated how that too can operate as a break, though with a different action. Therapies based on his method have also proved effective in fighting cancer.
‘Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges,’ the Nobel committee said on Twitter.
‘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.’
The event this year was delayed due to a sexual assault scandal. The photographer, Jean Claude-Arnault, at the center of the scandal was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty by a Swedish court for an offense that dates back to 2011.
Jean Claude-Arnault is 72 years old.