Published: Thu, October 04, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

American, Japanese wins Nobel for cancer research

American, Japanese wins Nobel for cancer research

Lanier, who like Allison is a center director for the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, says he is thrilled that such basic research was recognized.

"A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontier of knowledge".

In the past decade, immunotherapies that worked to inhibit these brakes have been trialed in patients with advanced melanoma, while others are now being trialed in lung and prostate cancers.

He said the idea of releasing the brakes on immune system cells has led to drugs for the skin cancer melanoma and for cancers of the lung, head and neck, bladder, kidney and liver. "His research has led to life-saving treatments for people who otherwise would have little hope".

Wolchok said "an untold number of lives. have been saved by the science that they pioneered".

It found that the drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) - which famously helped former USA president Jimmy Carter stave off advanced melanoma that had spread to his brain - helped lung cancer patients live four to eight months longer than chemo. That's because, in spite of this ability to blend in with the normal, cancer cells are often caught and killed by our remarkably vigilant immune system, which manages to recognize certain key markers, or antigens, on their cell surfaces that identify them as not-quite-right.

In 2016, after being treated with a drug inspired by Prof Honjo's research, he announced that he no longer needed treatment.

Their game-changing discoveries in cancer treatment involve harnessing and manipulating the immune system to fight cancer.

"Everybody wanted to do chemotherapy and radiation". Many considered trying to turn the immune system against cancer foolish, or even risky.

Allison, who now works at the University of Texas, researched during his 20 years at Berkeley how the immune system fights infection, according to a statement by UC Berkeley. The pharmaceutical industry is vigorously pursuing immunotherapy, and hundreds of trials are now underway based on CTLA-4, PD-1 and other immune approaches. "I never dreamed my research would take the direction it has", Allison said in a statement.

A member of his golf club approached him and thanked him for his efforts, he said. "But now I am able to play golf again". That was a blissful moment.

"It still hasn't completely dawned on me", he said.

News that Honjo became the 26th Japanese Nobel Prize victor was met with a shower of praise from cancer patient groups and the Japanese government on Monday.

When she learned Allison was awarded the Nobel Prize, she cried. The two scientists independently discovered pieces of cellular machinery that became the foundation for immunotherapy, a new type of cancer treatment in which doctors convince a patient's own immune system to attack tumor cells as if they were a bacterium or virus. Results were dramatic, leading to long-term remission and a possible cure in several patients with metastatic cancer, a condition that had previously been considered essentially untreatable.

"Allison's accomplishments on behalf of patients can not be overstated".

"I'd like to just give a shout out to all the patients out there who are suffering from cancer to let them know that we are making progress now".

Kim Hyo-sun tells us more.

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