James Allison, Tasuku Honjo win Nobel for CTLA-4/PD-1 discoveries

The Nobel Prize laureates in medicine or physiology are shown on a screen at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm Sweden

"Many people expected this Nobel Prize". By releasing that brake, Honjo's research had found a "strikingly effective" treatment against cancer.

The first of this year's Nobel Prizes, in medicine, was awarded Monday to cancer researchers James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo. Their parallel work concerned proteins that act as brakes on the body's immune system. The two independently propelled the field of immunotherapy, laying the foundations for the development of a number of drugs now approved to treat cancer. They have shown remarkable success against cancers such metastatic melanoma, bladder and lung cancers, sparking a revolution in treatment and a billion dollar market for the drugs. "We patented it", Allison told The Scientist earlier this year.

"Everybody wanted to do chemotherapy and radiation". Honjo, 76, is a distinguished professor at the Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study and a professor in the department of immunology and genomic medicine at Kyoto University in Japan. "We congratulate him on this highly deserved honor".

In a statement to reporters after learning of his award, Allison said he was "honored and humbled".

"We neutralise these and the white blood cells can get to work on the cancer cells", he added. "A comment like that makes me happier than any prize", he said.

"I never dreamed my research would take the direction it has", Allison said.

"His actions helped create the superb research environment here, which is so conducive to making the fundamental discoveries that will be the basis of the next generation of medical breakthroughs", Raulet said. Allison also is deputy director of the David H Koch Center for Applied Research of Genitourinary Cancers at MD Anderson and holds the Vivian L. Smith Distinguished Chair in Immunology. "By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumor cells this year's Nobel Laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy", read a statement from the Academy.

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James Allison in 1993, when he was conducting research at UC Berkeley on a promising immunotherapy now reaching fruition.

"For more than 100 years, scientists attempted to engage the immune system in the fight against cancer".

Their work centers on harnessing the immune system to arrest the development of cancer. "He didn't suffer fools easily".

Trying everything they could in mice to tweak the immune system, Krummel and Allison soon found that a protein receptor called CTLA-4 seemed to be holding T cells back, like a brake in a auto.

Cancerous tumors are notoriously skilled at dodging our immune systems.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, a close friend of Allison's, said the Nobel committee usually waits about ten years to make sure a scientific discovery "sticks as being really important". "It wasn't that the anti-CTLA-4 antibodies slowed the tumors down".

"When we showed (Professor Ralph) Reisfeld a paper we wrote, he actually said, 'I don't want my name on it".

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