Immune checkpoint therapy Current Affairs - 2019

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James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo awarded 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was jointly awarded to two immunologists James P. Allison (US) and Tasuku Honjo (Japan) for their discovery of Immune checkpoint therapy i.e. cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation. It was announced by Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute.

Significance of their discovery

Both immunologists had figured out entirely new principle for cancer therapy by stimulating the ability of immune system to attack tumour or cance cells more quickly, unlike traditional forms of cancer treatment that directly target cancer cells.  Their discovery has led to treatments targeting proteins made by some immune system cells that act as brake on body’s natural defences killing cancer cells. This therapy is landmark in fight against cancer and has revolutionised cancer treatment. It also has fundamentally changed way to manage cancer.

About Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

The Nobel award for physiology or medicine is given to persons whose discoveries have significantly enhanced understanding of life or practice of medicine. The winners are chosen by Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute. The prestigious award carries prize money of 8 million Swedish kroner (US $1.1 million). Medicine is first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite in 1895 in his will. German physiologist Emil von Behring was first recipient of this award in 1901 for his work on serum therapy and development of vaccine against diphtheria. Gerty Cori was first woman to receive Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1947 for her role in elucidating metabolism of glucose.

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