James P Allison of US and Tasaku Honjo of Japan jointly won the Nobel Medicine Prize for their discovery of cancer therapy by “inhibition of negative immune regulation”.
“Immune checkpoint therapy” has revolutionised cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed, the Nobel Prize committee said.
“Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. By stimulating the ability of our immune system to attack tumour cells, this year’s Nobel Prize laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy,” a statement read.
The discovery made by Allison and Honjo puts to use the immune system’ ability to attack cancer cells by releasing the brakes on immune cells.
While Allison studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system, Honjo discovered a protein in immune cell whoch also function as a brake but with a different mechanism of action. The therapies based on their research has proved to be more effective in fighting cancer cells.