Medicine

Honjo shares Nobel Prize for protein to boost cancer therapy:The Asahi Shimbun

Honjo shares Nobel Prize for protein to boost cancer therapy:The Asahi Shimbun

Allison, professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in the United States, worked on a protein known as CTLA-4 and realised during his work that if this could be blocked, a brake would be released, unleashing immune cells to attack tumours. It said Allison and Honjo's work "revolutionized cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed". Two drugs based on PD-1 inhibition, nivolumab and pembrolizumab, have been approved for treating melanoma and lung cancer.

It was a breakthrough drug that turned an invariably fatal cancer that killed patients within months into one that could be cured, albeit in only a minority (about 20 percent) of patients. Unlike other immune-stimulating mechanisms - such as vaccinations - that only work in mice or in a select few patients, checkpoint inhibitors provide general and successful treatments, he explained. "I didn't set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells - these incredible cells travel to our bodies and work to protect us".

Nobel Prize victor Tasuku Honjo of Japan says what makes him most delighted is when he hears from patients who have recovered from serious illness because of his research.

Honjo discovered a protein that helped lead to immunotherapeutic methods of cancer treatment and the development of an anti-cancer drug marketed as Opdivo. Honjo is also well known for his discovery of activation-induced cytidine deaminase that is essential for class switch recombination and somatic hypermutation. Releasing the brake allowed immune cells to attack tumors, he found.

The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine is awarded every year to those who make outstanding contributions in the field of life sciences and medicine.

"I am greatly honored and happy", Honjo said at a press conference at the Japanese university.

More news: Joe Maddon to return to Cubs in 2019, without extension

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded 108 times to 214 Nobel laureates between 1901 and 2017.

The 9 million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize was announced Monday by the Nobel Assembly of Sweden's Karolinska Institute. Honojo's lab discovered when they injected antibodies against PD-1 that cancer cells could no longer dupe the T-cells. He is now chair of immunology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

For the first time since 1949, the Swedish Academy has postponed the announcement of the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize until next year, amid a #MeToo scandal and bitter internal dispute that has prevented it from functioning properly.

This data paved the way for utilizing PD-1 as a target in the treatment of patients.Clinical development ensued, and in 2012 a key study demonstrated clear efficacy in the treatment of patients with different types of cancer.

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

The Nobel in physics will be announced today, followed by the award for chemistry on Wednesday and the peace prize on Friday.


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