Pulse 82: 2018 Nobel Prize for Cancer Immunotherapy

8 October 2018
Giulio Prisco

Nobel Prize

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.

“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,” notes the announcement. “The treatment, often referred to as ‘immune checkpoint therapy,’ has fundamentally changed the outcome for certain groups of patients with advanced cancer.”

The new Nobel laureates succeeded where others had failed by deciphering exactly how cells were interacting so they could fine-tune methods to control the immune system,” notes New York Times.

“It’s a big challenge,” Allison told NYT. “But we know the basic rules now. It’s just a matter of more hard work to put things together based on science.” Allison added that, when checkpoint inhibitors work, patients “are good to go for a decade or more.”

“When I’m thanked by patients who recover, I truly feel the significance of our research,” said Honjo, as reported by NYT. “I’d like to continue researching cancer for a while so that this immunotherapy will help save more cancer patients than ever before.”

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