The list of other possible awardees included a number of American researchers including Arlene Sharpe and Gordon Freeman at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Jedd Wolchok at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; and Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania, who pioneered another approach to immunotherapy.
James Allison, from the University of Texas, and Tasuku Honjo, from Japan's Kyoto University, worked in parallel as they tried to stimulate the immune system's ability to attack tumours. I did not get into these studies to try to cure cancer. Allison then developed a "checkpoint inhibitor", or a drug that releases that brake, and enables the patient's immune system to identify and confront tumors.
Both Allison and Honjo discovered how to lift the molecular "brakes" that keep our immune cells from attacking ourselves - specifically for the cancer cells that spawn inside of us. Born on August 7, 1948, Dr Allison's discoveries have led to breakthroughs in the treatment of the deadliest of cancers. 10 Facts About Cancer You Need to Know by World Health Organization (WHO). "The significance of immunotherapy as a form of cancer treatment will be felt for generations to come". Just last week, such a drug was approved for treatment of another kind of skin cancer called squamous cell cancer, he said.
"For more than 100 years scientists attempted to engage the immune system in the fight against cancer", the Nobel organization said in a statement.
His 75-year-old wife Shigeko said at the press conference, "I've taken upon myself the job of supporting my husband, so I'm very happy he received the Nobel Prize". When the treatments work, the cancer goes into remission.
Checkpoint inhibitors now available to patients can be used to treat lung, kidney, bladder, head and neck cancers as well as aggressive skin cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma, reports Denise Grady for The New York Times. They have come up with a unique cancer drug which strengthens the patient's own immune system to fight against the fatal disease.
The prize comes with an award of $1.1 million. Clinical trials are underway in many other cancer types.
The literature prize will not be given this year because of a sexual misconduct scandal at the body that decides the award.
"It's a great, emotional privilege to meet cancer patients who've been successfully treated with immune checkpoint blockade", he added.