Nobel Prize laureate Tasuku Honjo said “I’m very pleased to hear that what we’ve done is really meaningful,” following the announcement of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday.
For their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation, the discovery that has revolutionised cancer treatment, and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, announced on Monday, its decision to award the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to James P. Allison, and Tasuku Honjo.
The two scientists established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy which depends on stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumour cells.
Cancer is still one of the humanity’s greatest challenges, which is the main cause of death for millions of people every year, and until the discoveries that were made by Allison and Honjo, progress into clinical development was modest, according to a statement from the Nobel Assembly.
Allison who was born 1948 in Alice, Texas, the United States, studied a known protein which functions as a brake on the immune system, and succeeded in releasing the brake, thereby unleashing our immune cells to attack the tumours. Subsequently he developed this concept into a brand new approach for treating patients. He is a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Houston, Texas, and is affiliated with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.
For his part, Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells and, after careful exploration of its functions, eventually revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be remarkably effective in the fight against cancer as well.