U.S. and Japanese scientists to share Nobel prize for cancer work

Honjo won the prize, along with U.S. scientist James Allison, for research into how the body's natural defences can fight cancer.

Nobel officials announced in Sweden Monday American James Allison and Japan's Tasuku Honjo were winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. It competes with our "on" switches to help control immunity. A specialised cell presents the T-cell with an antigen from a cancer cell, along with a co-stimulator protein. Just last week, such a drug was approved for treatment of another kind of skin cancer called squamous cell cancer, he said. Alison discovered that by blocking this protein with an antibody made immune cells become more active.

The method researched by the scientists have found out ways to remove the brakes on cells that fight attackers. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective against cancer. Before protein inhibitors were invented cancer treatments were restricted to surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Thanks to their contribution to the field of cancer research, both Allison and Honjo have been able to find a way for us to "release the brake" on our immune systems, unleashing their cells to target cancer cells in what was an entirely new principle for cancer therapy. Immunotherapy, however, is less effective for certain cancers such as pancreatic and brain cancer. He spoke to the Associated Press.

Two immunologists, James Allison of the USA and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for research that has revolutionised the treatment of cancer, the jury said on Monday. He told the Nobel organization in a telephone interview Monday he was "very pleased to hear what I have done is really meaningful".

The discoveries by Allison, 70, and Honjo, 76, "absolutely paved the way for a new approach to cancer treatment", Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of the melanoma and immunotherapeutics service at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY, told The Associated Press. He is a professor at University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Centre.

"I'm honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition", Allison said in a statement.

"They are living proof of the power of basic science, of following our urge to learn and to understand how things work".

They are the first Nobel Prize winners of the year, as medicine or physiology is the first of five categories to be given out this week. On Wednesday, they will announce the chemistry prize. The victor of the Nobel Peace Prize will be named Friday. Two were only approved a year ago.

Seventeen other women also have accused him of rape or sexual assault. "For some patients, we see their tumours shrink or completely disappear and are effectively cured".

Among the numerous awards and honours that Honjo has received are the Order of Culture, the Robert Koch Prize and the Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy.

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