Nobel Prize in Medicine Awarded to Scientists Who Developed Breakthrough Cancer Treatment

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This could be life threatening under certain circumstances but are usually manageable say the scientists.

Two scientists, James Allison and Tasuku Honjo have jointly been awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for a "landmark" cancer breakthrough.

Here's James Allison talking about his work, which unleashes the power of the immune system on cancer.

The winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine are shown during a during a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 1, 2018.

Checkpoint inhibitors now available to patients can be used to treat lung, kidney, bladder, head and neck cancers as well as aggressive skin cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma, reports Denise Grady for The New York Times. Just like the other cancer treatments, this also has side effects such as overactive immune response leading to autoimmune reactions, which means the body's own cells are treated as foreign bodies and the immune system fights against the cells. In a statement Monday, he urged more support for basic science research.

One famous recipient of the new treatment is former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. He learned that the protein could put the brakes on T cells, creating what's called an immune "checkpoint". Those discoveries sparked a revolution for specific cancer treatments.

"Everybody wanted to do chemotherapy and radiation".

Allison said his research began by studying the immune system and he stumbled upon this idea as a way to treat cancer, the same disease that killed his mother. By empowering the human immune system, the body's natural defences can put up a fight against cancer.

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Allison studied a known protein and developed the concept into a new treatment approach, whereas Honjo discovered a new protein that also operated as a brake on immune cells.

"A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontier of knowledge".

In an interview Monday, Allison said he wasn't trying to cure cancer but to understand how T cells work when, at the University of California, Berkeley, he was studying a protein named CTLA-4. Some types of cancers can intentionally stimulate PD-1 on T-cells, causing the immune bodyguards to take a hike. He is a professor at Kyoto University.

The discoveries led to the creation of a multibillion-dollar market for new cancer medicines.

"He told me, 'Thanks to you I can play golf again.'.That was a blissful moment".

For the first time since 1949, the Swedish Academy has postponed the announcement of the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize until next year, amid a #MeToo scandal and bitter internal dispute that has prevented it from functioning properly. Allison's team did the first experiments at the end of 1994, and the results were "spectacular", the Nobel organization said.

According to the website of MD Anderson Cancer Center, Allison, 70, is the Chair of the Department of Immunology, the Vivian L. Smith Distinguished Chair in Immunology, Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Research, and the Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform at the institute.

Japan's leader said over a speaker phone that Honjo's research had given many patients hope.