Engaging our own immune systems against cancer

prototype-nobel-medicine-antigensResearchers James Allison from the University of Texas and Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University have won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work on immunotherapy in cancer treatment.

Allison identified proteins that slow down or speed up immune cells that attack cancer tumours, then developed therapies that exploited this protein regulatory function.

In independent work, Honjo a different but similar type of protein that operates as a brake on the immune system.

The human immune system is constantly scanning bacteria and viruses to determine if they are cells from ourselves or “non-self” invaders that must be attacked and eliminated. Allison and Honjo discovered new ways to notify special white blood cells called “T cells” when to attack deadly cancer tumour tissues.

Read more: Nobel Prize in Medicine / The Economist / ABC

Image: Nobel Prize press release

This story is taken from the 5 October 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.