Two immunologists, James Allison of the US and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the 2018 Noble Meidine Prize, for research that has revolutionised the treatment of cancer. The pair were honoured “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation,” the Nobel Assembly said.
Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy targets proteins made by some immune system cells, as well as some cancer cells. “Allison and Honjo showed how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer,” the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said, on awarding the prize of 9 million Swedish crowns ($1 million).
Allison, a professor at the University of Texas, and Honjo, a professor at Kyoto University, in 2014 won the Tang Prize, touted as Asia’s version of the Nobels, for their research. The duo will share the Nobel prize sum of nine million Swedish kronor (about USD 1.01 million or 870,000 euros).
They will receive their prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of Alfred Nobel who created the prizes in his last will and testament. Both laureates studied proteins that prevent the body and its main immune cells, known as T-cells, from attacking tumour cells effectively.