US, Japanese scientists win Nobel Medicine Prize for cancer therapy breakthrough
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US, Japanese scientists win Nobel Medicine Prize for cancer therapy breakthrough

James Allison and Tasuku Honjo developed a therapy which allows the immune system to get to work more quickly to fight the disease

Secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, Thomas Perlmann (R) stands next to a screen displaying portraits of James P Allison (L) and Tasuku Honjo during the announcement of the winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, during a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 1, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Jonathan NACKSTRAND)
Secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, Thomas Perlmann (R) stands next to a screen displaying portraits of James P Allison (L) and Tasuku Honjo during the announcement of the winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, during a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 1, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Jonathan NACKSTRAND)

STOCKHOLMSweden — Two immunologists, James Allison of the US and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for research that has revolutionized the treatment of cancer, the jury said on Monday.

The pair were honored “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation,” the Nobel Assembly said.

Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy targets proteins made by some immune system cells, as well as some cancer cells.

The proteins can stop the body’s natural defenses from killing cancer cells. The therapy is designed to remove this protein “brake” and allow the immune system to more quickly get to work fighting the cancer.

A statue of Swedish inventor and scholar Alfred Nobel is seen prior to a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 1, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Jonathan NACKSTRAND)

Allison, a professor at the University of Texas, and Honjo, a professor at Kyoto University, in 2014 won the Tang Prize, touted as Asia’s version of the Nobels, for their research.

The duo will share the Nobel prize sum of 9 million Swedish kronor (about $1.01 million or 870,000 euros).

They will receive their prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of Alfred Nobel who created the prizes in his last will and testament.

Last year, US geneticists Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young were awarded the medicine prize for their research on the role of genes in setting the “circadian clock” which regulates sleep and eating patterns, hormones and body temperature.

The winners of this year’s physics prize will be announced on Tuesday, followed by the chemistry prize on Wednesday. The peace prize will be announced on Friday, and the economics prize will wrap up the Nobel season on Monday, October 8.

For the first time since 1949, the Swedish Academy has postponed the announcement of the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize until next year, amid a rape scandal and bitter internal dispute that has prevented it from functioning properly.

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