American Jim Allison Will Be Award 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine

James P Allison Tasuku Honjo wins Nobel Prize in Medicine

The 2018 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to James Allison of the University of Texas and Tasuku Honjo of Japan's Kyoto University for their discoveries in cancer therapy.

James Allison, from the University of Texas, and Tasuku Honjo, from Japan's Kyoto University, worked in parallel as they tried to stimulate the immune system's ability to attack tumours.

Unlike more traditional forms of cancer treatment that directly target cancer cells - often with severe side-effects - Allison and Honjo figured out how to help the patient's own immune system tackle the cancer more quickly.

It is the second leading cause of death worldwide and it is estimated that this year, 9.6 million people will die from cancer. The resulting treatments, known as immune checkpoint blockade, have "fundamentally changed the outcome" for some advanced cancer patients, the Nobel institute said.

Scientists had been trying for a century to harness the immune system against cancer, but it was a struggle. "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.

Independently, Honjo had discovered PD-1, another protein in T-cells.

Their discoveries have created a billion-dollar market for new cancer medicines, . especially offering new options for patients fighting against melanoma, lung and bladder cancers. The drugs that have been developed from their discoveries are known as checkpoint inhibitors. The Nobel committee cited Allison's study of a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system, CTLA-4.

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Allison and Honjo will be honoured at an official Nobel ceremony in Stockholm in December, and will share the nine million Swedish kronor (£775,000) prize money.

"I'm honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition", Allison says in a statement. Achievements in science, literature, and peace have been awarded annually after businessman Alfred Nobel's name since 1901.

Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year.

Also, more than 30 drugs are under development as of June, said the American Cancer Society. Their work has been crucial to developing new and extremely effective treatments.

"A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge", Allison said in a written statement released by the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Other cancer treatments have been awarded Nobel prizes, including hormone treatment for prostate cancer in 1966, chemotherapy in 1988 and bone marrow transplants for leukemia in 1990.

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

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