Publicado: Mier, Octubre 03, 2018
Salud | Por Gertrudes Rodriquez

Nobel Medicine Prize awarded to duo for cancer research

Nobel Medicine Prize awarded to duo for cancer research

American James Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine on Monday for game-changing discoveries about how to harness and manipulate the immune system to fight cancer.

The two men won the prize for their landmark discovery of "cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation".

Allison's work explored how a protein can function as a brake on the immune system, and how the immune cells can combat tumors if the brake is released. These drugs lift restrictions the immune system and allow immune cells to attack and destroy cancer cells.

Checkpoint inhibitors now available to patients can be used to treat lung, kidney, bladder, head and neck cancers as well as aggressive skin cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma, reports Denise Grady for The New York Times.

Honjo, of Kyoto University, discovered a new protein, the ligand PD-1, which also acted as a brake on immune cells. Just like the other cancer treatments, this also has side effects such as overactive immune response leading to autoimmune reactions, which means the body's own cells are treated as foreign bodies and the immune system fights against the cells.

One of Carter's treatments was a drug that blocked the immune-cell "brake" studied by Honjo. It's been the most successful attempt yet to rid cancer patients of life-threatening tumours and, ultimately, the disease itself.

Checkpoint therapy using PD-1 has proven more effective and positive results are being seen in several types of cancer, including lung cancer, renal cancer, lymphoma and melanoma.

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The prize for physiology or medicine is first Nobel Prize awarded each year.

Jedd Wolchok, chief of the melanoma and immunotherapeutics service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in NY, said "the science they pioneered" had saved "an untold number of lives".

Dr Allison, 70, said he was "honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition".

Tasuku Honjo was born in Kyoto, Japan. Before protein inhibitors were invented cancer treatments were restricted to surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. "I would like to keep on doing my that this immune treatment could save more cancer patients", he said. Combinations of the two types can be even more effective.

Jim Allison, the chairman of the center's Immunology Department and executive director of the immunotherapy platform, was recognized by the Nobel Committee along with Japan's Tasuku Honjo for the pair's pioneering research into cancer treatment.

Therapy developed from Honjo's work led to long-term remission in patients with metastatic cancer that had been considered essentially untreatable, the Nobel Assembly said.

The physics prize is to be announced Tuesday, followed by chemistry.

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