University of Texas professor wins Nobel Prize in Medicine

University of Texas professor wins Nobel Prize in Medicine

University of Texas professor wins Nobel Prize in Medicine

Allison's work explored how a protein can function as a brake on the immune system, and how the immune cells can combat tumors if the brake is released. In a landmark paper published in Science in 1996, Allison, Leach and Krummel showed not only that antibodies against CTLA-4 released the brake and allowed the immune system to attack the tumors, but that the technique was effective enough to result in long-term disappearance of the tumors.

He then developed this concept into a new approach for treating patients.

One of Carter's treatments was a drug that blocked the immune-cell "brake" studied by Honjo.

"Allison and Honjo showed how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer", it said.

"I didn't set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells, these incredible cells that travel our bodies and work to protect us".

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.

Among those to have received such treatment is former USA president Jimmy Carter, who was diagnosed in 2015 with the skin cancer melanoma, which had spread to his brain. Their parallel work concerned proteins that act as brakes on the body's immune system.

Allison's research was conducted at the University of California, Berkeley.

"I've been doing this sort of stuff for years, and I'd never seen anything like that", Allison said.

James P. Allison of MD Anderson Cancer Center at The University of Texas in this picture obtained from MD Anderson Cancer Center (R) and Kyoto University Professor Tasuku Honjo in Kyoto, in this photo taken by Kyodo.

After Allison himself replicated the experiment, "that's when I said, OK, we've got something here".

In 2016, after being treated with a drug inspired by Prof Honjo's research, he announced that he no longer needed treatment.

"Targeted therapies don't cure cancer, but immunotherapy is curative, which is why many consider it the biggest advance in a generation", Allison said in a 2015 interview.

"Until the discoveries made by the 2018 Medicine Laureates, progress into clinical development was modest".

Meanwhile, Allison left UC Berkeley in 2004 for Memorial Sloan Kettering research center in NY to be closer to the drug companies shepherding his therapy through clinical trials, and to explore in more detail how checkpoint blockade works. The therapy is created to remove this protein "brake" and allow the immune system to more quickly get to work fighting the cancer.

The literature prize will not be handed out this year after the awarding body was hit by a sexual misconduct scandal.

In other Nobel Prize announcements, the physics prize will be announced Tuesday, followed by chemistry on Wednesday and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

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