Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 2018 Announced

Appreciation of the research on cancer therapies

01-Oct-2018 - Sweden

The researchers James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo were announced today as this year's winners of the Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine. Their achievements in the field of cancer therapy was groundbreaking and worthy of the Nobel Prize Committee's appreciation.

Nobel Foundation

Left: James P. Allison, right: Tasuku Honjo

With the help of the immune system, diseases can be fought, which are summarized under the term cancer. By switching off the regulation of the immune system, cells in the body that are characterised by a high division rate and proliferation can be combated, as do cancer cells.

Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumor cells this year’s Nobel Laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.

James P. Allison studied a known protein that functions as a brake on the immune system. He realized the potential of releasing the brake and thereby unleashing our immune cells to attack tumors. He then developed this concept into a brand new approach for treating patients.

In parallel, Tasuku Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells and, after careful exploration of its function, eventually revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer.

Allison and Honjo showed how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer. The seminal discoveries by the two Laureates constitute a landmark in our fight against cancer.

The scientific background of this research can be accessed via the link box on the right side.

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