Dr James P Allison and Dr Tasuku Honjo, who was named the 2018 Nobel honoree in medicine, showed that it is possible to stimulate the inherent ability of our immune system to attack cancer, thus establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy”.
They showed that the body’s immune system could be engineered to take on and eliminate cancer cells, opening the path to the fourth category of cancer treatment, which was limited to surgery, radiation and chemotherapy prior to this work
Dr James P Allison, 70, chairman of immunology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in the US, he studied a known protein that functions as a brake on the immune system. He realised the potential of releasing the brake and thereby unleashing our immune cells to attack tumours.
Dr Tasuku Honjo, 76, is a professor at Kyoto University, Japan, he discovered a protein on immune cells that also operates as a break, but with a different mechanism. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective against cancer.
Their research has been described as “a landmark in our fight against cancer.