2 cancer researchers win 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine

Two cancer immunotherapy researchers — James Allison, PhD and Tasuky Honjo MD, PhD — have won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their pioneering work in the fight against cancer, according to The New York Times.

Here are six things to know:

1. Allison and Honjo, who worked separately, both discovered ways to harness the body's immune system to attack cancer cells. This approach is known as immune checkpoint therapy.

2. Allison studied a protein that functions as a break on the immune system. This break prevents the immune system from attacking various cancer cells. He found that releasing the break allows immune cells to attack tumors, according to CNN. Dr. Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells that also operates as a break, though it has a different action than the protein Dr. Allison found.

3. Before their research, cancer treatment consisted of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Now, there is a fourth treatment, using a patient's immune system to help attack the cancer.

4. The Nobel committee called their research "an entirely new principle for cancer therapy."

5. Allison currently serves as the chairman of immunology and a professor at Houston-based MD Anderson Cancer Center. He conducted his research on cancer and the immune system while working at University of California-Berkeley and New York City-based Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

6. Honjo is a longtime professor at Kyoto University in Japan, where he conducted the Nobel-prize winning research. He also completed research at The University of Tokyo and National Institutes of Health.


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