Revolutionary cancer-fighting treatment earns scientists Nobel Prize in medicine

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Tasuku Honjo expresses gratitude after being named as co-winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine at an October 1 news conference.

Tasuku Honjo of Japan "discovered a protein on immune cells and revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action".

Commenting on Monday's award, Dan Davis, an immunologist at Britain's University of Manchester, said "this game-changing cancer therapy" has "sparked a revolution in thinking about the many other ways in which the immune system can be harnessed or unleashed to fight cancer and other illnesses". "It represents a completely new principle because, unlike the previous strategies, it is not based on targeting the cancer cells but rather the brakes, the checkpoints of the host immune system", he said.

Antibodies against PD-1 have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as an investigational new drug for the treatment of cancer. Carter announced in 2016 that he no longer needed treatment.

Discovering how to unlock the power of the immune system to destroy tumors has seen the first of 2018's Nobel Prizes awarded to two immunologists on Monday.

Douglas Kell, a professor of bioanalytical science at the University of Manchester, says the prize is "fantastic news". The two scientists will share the 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize. The pharmaceutical industry is vigorously pursuing immunotherapy, and hundreds of trials are now underway based on CTLA-4, PD-1 and other immune approaches.

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"I was able to prove that it is not rare for fundamental research to lead to applications", Honjo, 76, said at a news conference held at Kyoto University, where he is now a professor. 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. "Clearly, immunotherapy now has taken its place along with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation as a reliable and objective way to treat cancer". The discovery led to effective treatments.

The pioneering work of Allison and Honjo led to the development of several drugs, including ipilimumab (Yervoy), the first immunotherapy drug, and the PD-1 inhibitors nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda).

A former UC Berkeley cancer researcher has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking work that began on the Berkeley campus and continued when he moved on to University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Allison and his lab found when they injected antibodies that interfere with CTLA-4, the T-cells began multiplying like insane.

"Just shock, I think", the research scientist told USA TODAY. "I'd like to continue researching cancer for a while so that this immunotherapy will help save more cancer patients than ever before". "But now I am able to play golf again". "It's being tested in a variety of other cancers", Urba said. The literature prize will not be given this year because of a sexual misconduct scandal at the body that decides the award.

"It's a great, emotional privilege to meet cancer patients who've been successfully treated with immune checkpoint blockade", he added.

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