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Landmark cancer therapy wins Nobel prize

Two scientists who discovered how to fight cancer using the body’s immune system have won the 2018 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine.

The work by James P Allison, from the US, and Tasuku Honjo, from Japan, has led to treatments for advanced, deadly skin cancer.

Immune checkpoint therapy has revolutionised cancer treatment, said the prize-giving Swedish Academy.

Experts say it has proved to be “strikingly effective”.

Allison, a professor at the University of Texas, and Honjo, a professor at Kyoto University, will share the Nobel prize sum of nine million Swedish kronor – about $ 1.01 million or 870,000 euros.

Treating the untreatable

Our immune system protects us from disease, but it has built in safeguards or to stop it from attacking our own tissue.

Some cancers can take advantage of those “brakes” and the dodge attack too.

Allison and Honjo discovered a way to unleash our immune cells to attack tumours by turning off proteins that put the brakes on.

And that has led to the development of new drugs that offer hope to patients with advanced and previously untreatable cancer.

Immune checkpoint therapy is being used by the NHS to treat people with the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma.

It doesn’t work for everyone, but for some patients it appears to have worked incredibly well, getting rid of the tumour entirely.

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BBC News – Health