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02 October 2018, 12:22 | Louis Holland
Cancer Researchers Win 2018 Nobel Prize For Medicine
Commenting on Monday's award, Dan Davis, an immunologist at Britain's University of Manchester, said "this game-changing cancer therapy" has "sparked a revolution in thinking about the many other ways in which the immune system can be harnessed or unleashed to fight cancer and other illnesses".
The methods are responsible for the development of cancer immunotherapy, which is included with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy as approaches to fighting cancer. According to MD Anderson, Allison's crucial insight was to block a protein on T cells that acts as a brake on their activation, freeing the T cells to attack cancer.
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Immunologists James Allison of the United States and Tasuko Honjo of Japan won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for research in how the body's natural defenses can fight the scourge of cancer. The pharmaceutical industry is vigorously pursuing immunotherapy, and hundreds of trials are now underway based on CTLA-4, PD-1 and other immune approaches. Dr. Allison's work has led to new and effective cancer therapies that free the immune system to attack tumors, a breakthrough called immune checkpoint blockade. The discovery led to effective treatments.
Allison's work led to development of the first immune checkpoint inhibitor drug which would become the first to extend the survival of patients with late-stage melanoma.
Allison said his research began by studying the immune system and he stumbled upon this idea as a way to treat cancer, the same disease that killed his mother. "It represents a paradigmatic shift and a landmark in the fight against cancer". Allison then spent more than 15 years convincing other scientists and drug companies that his approach could work. One cancer doctor said "an untold number of lives. have been saved by the science that they pioneered".
Lanier adds he has nominated Allison for the Nobel several times, but that it probably took the committee some time to figure out who deserved to receive it alongside him. Perlmann said the Nobel Committee chose to highlight Allison and Honjo to reflect the basic science that created a new "pillar" of cancer therapy. Allison also is deputy director of the David H Koch Center for Applied Research of Genitourinary Cancers at MD Anderson and holds the Vivian L. Smith Distinguished Chair in Immunology. "Doing basic science can have major results in human health care", he says.
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