Two immunologists have been awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine for their groundbreaking work on cancer therapy. It is the first time the development of a cancer therapy has been recognised with a Nobel prize.
James P. Allison, chair of the department of immunology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and Tasuku Honjo, a professor in the department of immunology and genomic medicine at Kyoto University in Japan, have paved the way for a new class of cancer drugs.
These drugs are already improving patient outcomes and have drastically changed scientists’ understanding of the potential of the human immune system to control or even eradicate tumours and blood cancers.
You can read more about how the treatment works in this article from Prevention.
“I’m so thrilled that a Nobel has been awarded for this game-changing cancer therapy. It doesn’t work for everyone but lives have been saved, and it 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. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg – many more medicines like this are on the horizon.” – Professor Dan Davis, University of Manchester
“A decade ago, metastatic melanoma was largely incurable. Thanks to work from Allison and Honjo, patients now have real hope, with over a third of patients deriving long-term benefit and even cures from such therapies.” – Professor Charlie Swanton, Chief Clinician at Cancer Research UK