Stockholm: Dr James P Allison, chair of the department of immunology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas and Dr Tasuku Honjo, distinguished professor at the Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study and a professor in the department of immunology and genomic medicine at Kyoto University in Japan were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday for their breakthroughs in cancer treatment.
Their work focuses on harnessing the immune system to arrest the development of cancer using checkpoint inhibitors, and this has been one of the biggest changes in cancer therapy.
Prof Honjo, 76, had discovered a protein called Programmed Cell Death Protein 1 which controls whether cells live or die and a process that determines whether cells become cancerous and grow into tumors or are normal.
James Allison, 70, had studied a protein called CTLA-4 that functions as a brake on the immune system which when stimulated attacks tumors. Alison experimented with mice having cancer and by using his process on the mouse’s immune system, the tumors had disappeared!
The $1.01 million prize money will be divided between them.