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Scientists Who Sparked Revolution In Cancer Treatment Share Nobel Prize In Medicine

01 October 2018

James Allison, whose early work at Scripps Research in La Jolla set him on a path to using the immune system to successfully fight cancer, reached the pinnacle of science Monday when he was awarded this year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

The duo will share the Nobel prize sum of 9 million Swedish kronor (about $1.01 million).

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's and Honjo's work focussed on proteins that act as brakes on the immune system - preventing the body's main immune cells, known as T-cells, from attacking tumours effectively.

Honjo separately discovered a new protein on immune cells and eventually found that it also acts as a brake. Their work has been crucial to developing new and extremely effective treatments.

Honjo of Japan "discovered a protein on immune cells and revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action".

The Nobel Assembly said after announcing the prize in Stockholm that the therapy "has now revolutionised cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed".

"I would like to keep on doing my research.so that this immune treatment could save more cancer patients", he said.

"I'm honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition", Allison said in a statement released by the university's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he is a professor. For many scientists, he said, a driving motivation "is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge".

"With another postdoc I did some side experiments on how tumors are recognized by the immune system", Allison told the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2016.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, a close friend of Allison's, said the Nobel committee usually waits about ten years to make sure a scientific discovery "sticks as being really important".

Allison's and Honjo's prize-winning work started in the 1990s and was part of significant advances in cancer immunotherapy.

The discoveries led to the creation of a multibillion-dollar market for new cancer medicines. "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". The victor of the Nobel Peace Prize will be named Friday. It was because of a sexual misconduct scandal that led to the decision was the Nobel assembly.

Last year, USA 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.

Scientists Who Sparked Revolution In Cancer Treatment Share Nobel Prize In Medicine