Nobel 2018: Pair Helped Create a New Way to Fight Cancer

James Allison of US and Tasuku Honjo of Japan forged way for immunotherapy
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2018 5:45 AM CDT
Nobel Winners Helped Change How We Fight Cancer
Kyoto University Professor Tasuku Honjo in Kyoto, western Japan. He and James P. Allison jointly won the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology.   (Ryosuke Ozawa/Kyodo News via AP)

The first Nobel of the year is out, with an American and a Japanese researcher sharing the prize for medicine. The winners are James Allison of the University of Texas and Tasuku Honjo of Japan's Kyoto University, reports the AP. The two researchers did not work together, but both made independent breakthroughs in the same field: figuring out ways to help the body's own immune system fight cancer.

  • Emerging field: Both men "discovered methods of removing the brakes on cells that fight invaders, paving the way for cancer immunotherapy, which has joined surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy as a major weapon in the battle against cancer," per the Washington Post.
  • Allison: He talks about his own work here.
  • Honjo: Listen to Honjo in an interview here.
  • Nobel panel, on Allison: He "studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system," the organization tweets. He (realized) the potential of releasing the brake and unleashing our immune cells to attack (tumors). He developed this concept into a new approach for treating patients."
  • Nobel panel, on Honjo: He "discovered a protein on immune cells and revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action," the group tweets. "Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer."
(More Nobel Prize in Medicine stories.)

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