The Nobel committee on Monday announced that the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to a US-Japanese pair for their landmark work in cancer research. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer. He is a professor at Kyoto University. Usually, the immune system's response against cancer cells is very weak.
"When I'm thanked by patients who recover, I truly feel the significance of our research", Honjo said during a news conference at the Japanese university, reports Grady for The New York Times. The prize in economics will be announced next Monday.
He has been awarded the 2018 King Faisal Prize in Medicine for his outstanding contribution to the development of the field of immunotherapy for cancer.
The two scientists both studied proteins that function as brakes on the immune system to attack tumor cells more effectively.
Edward Smith, member of the Nobel Committee, told Xinhua that the significance of this year's award pointed to a "new fashion" in cancer treatment. Allison's team did the first experiments at the end of 1994, and the results were "spectacular", the Nobel organization said. "I didn't set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells, these incredible cells that travel our bodies and work to protect us".
Japan's leader said over a speaker phone that Honjo's research had given many patients hope.
The discovery is transforming cancer treatments and has led to a new class of drugs that work by switching off the braking mechanism, prompting the immune cells to attack cancer cells.
No Nobel in literature is being given this year because the Swedish Academy, the body that selects the victor, has been in turmoil after sex abuse and financial scandal allegations.
He said Allison's work a decade ago "really opened up immunotherapy" as a fifth pillar of cancer treatments, after surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and precision therapy.
Following the discovery of the protein in 1992, Honjo presented his research in 2002 showing that a drug that prevents the unification of cancer cells and the PD-1 protein is effective against cancer in animals.
The awards ceremony will be held in Stockholm on December 10.
After the announcement of the winners, the supporters and well wishers started to celebrate the victory.