Earlier this year I commented on the upsurge in immunotherapy cancer research - see “Exciting times for immunotherapy”. The significance of the developments in this field has now been recognised by the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine with the award of this year’s prize to two immunotherapy pioneers. The prize has been shared by Professor James Allison and Professor Tasuku Honjo - scientists who conducted early research leading to the characterisation of two key proteins regulating the immune response to cancer. The work carried out by Allison and Honjo formed the foundation for the development of cancer drugs such as Yervoy and Opdivo, both of which are particularly effective for the treatment of melanoma.
In my day-to-day work, I have the privilege of working with companies and scientists following in the footsteps of Allison and Honjo in developing new immunotherapy approaches to cancer treatment. This is undoubtedly an exciting field with the potential to transform cancer treatment in the coming years. Although there is still a long way to go, let’s hope that many of the approaches still in their infancy prove successful as they progress into trials and the clinic.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2018 was awarded jointly to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo "for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation."