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  #1   ^
Old Mon, Oct-01-18, 16:00
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Default Revolution In Cancer Treatment Share Nobel Prize

October 1, 2018

Scientists Who Sparked Revolution In Cancer Treatment Share Nobel Prize In Medicine


James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo will be awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries which led to the development of a revolution in cancer treatment — therapies that work by harnessing the body's own immune system.

Allison, 70, is currently chair of the department of immunology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. 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.

They worked separately on the same problem: figuring out how the immune system helps protect us from cancer and how it can be supercharged to mount an effective response.

Jim Allison, as he is known, did his key work at the University of California, Berkeley. His focus was a key part of the immune system called T cells. "When I started working on T cells, nobody understood them at all," he said at a news conference today. They rev up to respond to cancers and other diseases, but they also have a mechanism that slows them down to prevent an overreaction.

Allison discovered a molecule called CTLA-4, which served as the "brakes" for T cells. So Allison had an idea: "Let's just disable the brakes and see if that will allow the immune system to attack cancer," he said. "And it did."
A Scientist's Dream Fulfilled: Harnessing The Immune System To Fight Cancer
Shots - Health News
A Scientist's Dream Fulfilled: Harnessing The Immune System To Fight Cancer

Speaking to NPR in 2016, Allison said in his experiments on mice with cancer in the 1990s, he tinkered with the CTLA-4 molecule in the rodent's immune system.

The results were astounding — tumors disappeared.

"I've been doing this sort of stuff for years, and I'd never seen anything like that," Allison said. "And I thought, 'If we could do that in people, this is going to be amazing.' "

That discovery led to the development of a whole class of drugs, called immune checkpoint inhibitors, which are a potent way to treat some cancers. (The first drug based on his discovery is Yervoy).

These drugs are remarkably effective for a minority of patients who get them. For example, former president Jimmy Carter's treatment for a dangerous skin cancer, melanoma, that had spread to his brain included a checkpoint inhibitor. His response was remarkable.

"The reason I'm really thrilled about this is I'm a basic scientist," he said. Though his mother died of cancer when he was a child, Allison said, "I did not get into these studies to cure cancer."

Across the Pacific, his colleague Tasuku Honjo was also figuring out how T cells work. He discovered a second set of brakes, called the PD-1 pathway. Drug developers came up with potent medicines to target those brakes. Those drugs, such as Keytruda and Opdivo, are now widely used drugs to treat many different types of cancer.

The Nobel committee cited Allison's study of a protein called CTLA-4 that functions as a brake on the immune system. By releasing this brake, the body's own immune system can be stimulated to attack tumors.
Harnessing The Immune System To Fight Cancer
Shots - Health News
Harnessing The Immune System To Fight Cancer

Together, these checkpoint inhibitors represent a whole new class of cancer treatment, above and beyond the standard approaches of using chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Scientists had previously tried to harness the immune system to attack cancer, but this approach was far and away the most effective.

Allison says the Nobel committee told him that it's the first time the prize for Physiology or Medicine will be awarded for new cancer treatments (though other prizes have rewarded fundamental understanding about the mechanism of cancer).

Though some patients have remarkable responses, these drugs aren't cures for most people who take them. Survival can sometimes be improved by combining these drugs, or by including them in treatments that involve chemotherapy or radiation. There's a worldwide scramble to run tests to find potent new combinations.

"So we still have a lot of hard work to do," Allison says, "but the optimism comes from the fact that we know the basic rules now."

The prize is worth about $1 million and will be split between the winners when it is awarded Dec. 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health...ogy-or-medicine
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Allison, now at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on Monday, alongside Japan’s Tasuku Honjo. Their findings have led directly to the development of Yervoy, the first immunotherapy drug to hit the market for cancer, as well as Keytruda, the drug credited with keeping former President Jimmy Carter alive after his melanoma diagnosis.

These drugs have transformed how cancer is treated and given hope to people with some of the most devastating cancer diagnoses. The drugs, most of which cost $100,000 or more for a course of treatment, are also making big money for pharmaceutical companies.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna915446

Last edited by Meme#1 : Mon, Oct-01-18 at 16:08.
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  #2   ^
Old Mon, Oct-01-18, 16:30
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Isn't this WONDERFUL!!! I heard the news announcement on the radio this morning/ today. Just wow'd me!! Maybe there is hope.
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Old Mon, Oct-01-18, 20:19
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I wonder if insurance will cover it? The drugs cost $100,000.
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Old Tue, Oct-02-18, 08:23
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Some insurance wont accept the treatment, so they dont have to pay. All about making money they are.

However, Im still excited that these 2 researchers who have spent their lives looking for answers got the recognition. I pointed out their ages to my kids---

My mother worked for/ friends with a researcher who in her retirement years was still working. She was Norwegian and still cross country ski'd in the winter and took long walks in the summer. It wasn't until years later that when a college textbook had the same name that I started piecing together who she was. Her ex had written the textbook. I knew her by two names.: her current married name, and her research name aka ex-husbands name. Only recently when DS needed to work on a school project did I have him google the name. To show him her dad was a nobel prize winner all she had accomplished in her lifetime, in research.

I remember babysitting her grandchildren, and their vocab was far beyond mine. LOL. WHen I had kids I pushed my kids vocab level-- kids learn from their parents using big words..... and reading.

Last edited by Ms Arielle : Tue, Oct-02-18 at 08:28.
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