Last week, we read an article in Sweden’s largest daily newspaper written by Amina Manzoor, in which she listed some of the scientists most likely to win the Nobel Medicine Prize this year. Among the predicted winners were David Allis and Michael Grunstein for their pioneering work in epigenetics and gene expression. Both Allis and Grunstein have studied the importance of histones, proteins in the chromosomes that play a crucial role in turning genes off and on.
Unfortunately, they were never awarded the prize, but no need to hang your head. This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to James P. Allison at Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Tasuku Honjo at the University of Kyoto “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation”. Congratulations!
Their work on how to mobilize the immune system to combat cancer is considered transformative and their discoveries constitute a landmark in the fight against the disease. Both James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo have studied proteins that function as brakes on the immune system. By releasing the brake and thereby unleashing the immune system to attack tumors, this year’s Nobel Laureates have established a new principle for cancer therapy. The game-changing therapy has already proven to be effective in the fight against several types of cancer, including lung cancer and melanoma.
The annual week of Nobel Prize announcements kicked off yesterday with the Medicine Prize. The Physics Prize is to be announced today, followed by Chemistry tomorrow. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be named Friday and of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel on Monday.