UC Berkeley Research Leads To Nobel Prize For Medicine
UC Berkeley Research Leads To Nobel Prize For Medicine
James P Allison and Tasuku Honjo win Nobel prize for medicine
03 October, 2018, 19:17
The drug is created to combine with the PD-1 protein to inhibit it from binding to PD-L1, taking the brakes off the immune system and thus enhancing its ability to attack cancer cells.
Mr Honjo separately discovered a new protein on immune cells and eventually found that it also acts as a brake.
Clinical studies document successful fights against melanoma, lymphoma, lung cancer and renal cancer, and further studies indicate therapy combining CTLA-4 and PD-1 treatments could be even more effective for melanoma patients. Their research has led to the development of drugs that release that Human immune system against the cancer cells.
The research honored with today's Nobel Prize in Medicine paid off for at least one very famous patient: former US president Jimmy Carter. Carter announced in 2016 that he no longer needed treatment.
The therapy has only been used on patients for a few years, and is less effective for certain cancers such as pancreatic and brain cancer.
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The immunologist said Monday at a news conference at Kyoto University that he is honored and delighted by the award. American James Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo were awarded the honourable prize by the award-giving body.
Independently, Honjo had discovered PD-1, another protein in T-cells. But a powerful system also needs powerful regulation, for which our bodies have evolved so-called "checkpoints", or brakes, that guard against overactivity of the immune response. "The significance of immunotherapy as a form of cancer treatment will be felt for generations to come".
After his big win on Monday, Allison warned that immunotherapy will not replace all other cancer treatments.
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. Proteins on the surface of a T cell tell the immunesystem to kick into overdrive and ready it to destroy foreign threats - but others act as blocks, telling the immunesystem to slow down. "I never dreamed my research would take the direction it has", Allison said in a statement. Awards in physics, chemistry, peace and economics will follow.
Honjo, 76, said he wants to continue his research to save more cancer patients. "As a basic scientist, to have my work impact people is one of the best things I can think about".
"He told me, 'Thanks to you I can play golf again.'.That was a blissful moment".
"It's a great, emotional privilege to meet cancer patients who've been successfully treated with immune checkpoint blockade", he added. "They are living proof of the power of basic science, of following our urge to learn and to understand how things work", Allison said.
"Because of professor Honjo's belief and passion, our research led to the development of the drug", said Iwai. In May, the academy announced that no prize would be awarded this year.
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