Allison and Tasuku Honjo Win 2018 Nobel Prize In Physiology or Medicine

Alicia Farmer
October 1, 2018

The 2018 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology has been jointly awarded to United States and Japanese immunologists James P Allison and Tasuku Honjo.

The Nobel Prize laureates for Medicine or Physiology 2018 are James P. Allison, US, and Tasuku Honjo, Japan, presented at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on Monday. "The discovery made by the two Medicine Laureates takes advantage of the immune system's ability to attack cancer cells by releasing the brakes on immune cells", the Nobel committee said on Twitter.

His 1994 experiment was spectacularly successful, with mice with cancer cured by treatment with the antibodies that inhibit the brake and unlock antitumor T-cell activity.

American Allison studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system.

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Honjo, professor at Kyoto University since 1984, separately discovered a second protein on immune cells and revealed that it too operated as a brake, but with a different mechanism.

"I'm honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition", Allison said in a statement released by the university's MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he is a professor. "The number of different types of cancers for which this approach to immunotherapy is being found to be effective in at least some patients continues to grow". Removing these proteins from the equation allows immune cells called T-cells to attack the cancer. "Until the seminal discoveries by the two laureates, progress into clinical development was modest", the Nobel jury said.

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.

The Nobel Prize in Physics is to be announced Tuesday, followed by chemistry. The peace prize will be announced on Friday, and the economics prize will wrap up the Nobel season on Monday, October 8.

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