The Nobel Prize in medicine has just been awarded to two scientist for their discoveries in fighting cancer using our own immune system. Japanese Tasuku Honjo and American James Allison were able to develop “checkpoint inhibitors”, which are drugs that give the immune system the ability to fight and kill cancer cells.
The two scientists started their own work separately in the 90’s before they joined forces, and after a lot of work and more than 20 years doing research, the 2 scientists were able to treat various kinds of cancer including liver cancer, lung cancer and kidney cancer.
Although the drug is not general and has not proven to be effective on everyone, but it’s still a huge step in medicine to be able to program the immune system to fight something that is not a virus or bacteria. It is definitely going to open more doors in front of scientists in the future for making optimal use out of the immune system.
Other Nobel Prize winners are to be announced in the next couple of days, starting with the prize in physics today, and ending with economic sciences prize on the 8th of October.