The victor of the Nobel Peace Prize will be named Friday.
Allison said his research began by studying the immune system and he stumbled upon this idea as a way to treat cancer, the same disease that killed his mother. For many scientists, he said, a driving motivation "is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge". Allison spent 17 years convincing others that this approach could work, leading to approval in 2011 of the drug Yervoy, which showed near-miraculous results for a fraction of patients with a lethal form of skin cancer. "Immune checkpoint therapy" has revolutionised cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed".
Both Allison and Honjo discovered how to lift the molecular "brakes" that keep our immune cells from attacking ourselves - specifically for the cancer cells that spawn inside of us.
T cells are key immune system soldiers.
Their work, on stimulating the body's immune system to attack tumours, have produced "strikingly effective" therapies, the Nobel Assembly of Sweden's Karolinska Institute said.
"We are thrilled to see Jim's work recognized by the Nobel Committee", said Russell Vance, the current director of the Cancer Research Laboratory and a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology.
The anti-PD-1 "checkpoint inhibitors" have proved even more effective than anti-CTLA-4 treatment, giving hope to patients with lung cancer, renal cancer, lymphoma, and melanoma, among others.
"Until the seminal discoveries by the two laureates, progress into clinical development was modest".
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Allison has been recognised for his breakthrough research in cancer immunology with numerous awards.
Today, immunotherapies based on Allison and Honjo's research work especially well for fighting advanced and aggressive tumors. "The number of different types of cancers for which this approach to immunotherapy is being found to be effective in at least some patients continues to grow".
Berg said that former President Jimmy Carter's cancer, which had spread to his brain, was treated with one of the drugs developed from Honjo's work.
Lanier adds he has nominated Allison for the Nobel several times, but that it probably took the committee some time to figure out who deserved to receive it alongside him.
No Nobel Literature Prize is being given this year because the Swedish Academy, the body that choses the literature victor, has been in turmoil after sex abuse and financial scandal allegations.
Awards in physics, chemistry, peace and economics will follow.
Arnault, 72, is married to a member of the Swedish Academy which selects the Nobel Literature Prize victor, and his cultural club Forum received generous funding from the Academy.