The highly prestigious Nobel Prize in the field of Physiology or Medicine was received by two leading immunotherapy researchers in the field of cancer treatment. James P. Allison from the United States of America & Tasuku Honjo from Japan were awarded this prestigious award for their impressive work on unwinding the theory of the immune system of the body for attacking cancer. This medical theory has served to be a breakthrough in the field of cancer treatment that has led to the advent of a completely new range of drugs. Moreover, the revolutionary immunotherapy for cancer treatment has also brought about everlasting remissions to several patients who did run out of possible options.
Before the discoveries of Dr. Honjo and Dr. Allison, most of the cancer treatment included radiation, surgery, hormonal changes, and chemotherapy. A statement that was released by the Nobel Committee hailed the accomplishments of the scientists as they have helped in the establishment of a completely new principle for the treatment of cancer.
On the basis of the works of the scientists, the drugs belong to the specific class referred to as “Checkpoint Inhibitors.” Earlier attempts made by other medical researchers in the given field towards recruiting the immune system for fighting cancer sometimes did work, but at other times, most of them did not work. Dr. Honjo & Dr. Allison were able to succeed in the case wherein others had failed. This was achieved by deciphering how the cells were able to interact such that the scientists were able to refine the systems for controlling the immune system of the body.
The checkpoint inhibitors are known to not work for every individual out there. These have been approved only for specific cancer treatments. The checkpoint inhibitors that are available in the market out there are currently utilized for treating neck, lung, kidney, head, and bladder cancer.
The T-cells –a specific type of white blood cells, are sometimes known as the warriors of the body’s immune system. They are made use of by the body for fighting major infections. In the given immunotherapy therapy, the T-cells are made use of for treating cancer. Dr. Allison was successful in coming across a checkpoint referred to as CTLA-4. Honjo found another one known as PD-1. These major discoveries by the scientists have helped in the development of drugs that would allow the T-cells to fight cancer effectively.