The Latest: Nobel winner Allison hears the news from his son
STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Latest on the 2018 Nobel Prizes (all times local):
James Allison learned he had won the Nobel Prize in medicine this morning in a phone call from his son.
Allison of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center won the 2018 Nobel Prize on Monday along with Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University in Japan.
Allison, who was in a New York hotel for a scientific meeting, told a press conference later Monday that the Nobel committee had trouble reaching him to break the news. But his cellphone lit up with a call from his son at 5:30 a.m., when the names of the winners were released.
Allison says soon “there were people beating on my door at 6 in the morning with Champagne.”
Nobel winner James Allison of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center says more basic research is needed to help cancer patients.
Allison won the 2018 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday along with Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University in Japan.
Allison’s drug, known commercially as Yervoy, became the first to extend the survival of patients with late-stage melanoma. He says “we need these drugs to work for more people.”
Allison says scientists need to better understand “how these drugs work and how they might best be combined with other therapies to improve treatment and reduce unwanted side effects. We need more basic science research to do that.”
Allison says it’s “a great emotional privilege to meet cancer patients who’ve been successfully treated with immune checkpoint blockade. They are living proof of the power of basic science.”
MD Anderson President Peter WT Pisters says Allison’s research “has led to life-saving treatments for people who otherwise would have little hope.”
Tasuku Honjo, a co-winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize for medicine, says he struggled during the early years of his research to find enough money to continue his ground-breaking work.
Honjo of Japan’s Kyoto University and James Allison of the University of Texas won for discovering how to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack tumors.
Honjo, 76, said he received a congratulatory phone call from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who asked him about the past funding difficulty. Honjo told Abe that government funding improved eventually, allowing him to continue.
But Honjo later told reporters he had once gotten so desperate he had even thought about tying up with a U.S. pharmaceutical company or of putting his personal savings into his work.
One U.S. cancer doctor says the discoveries by James Allison of the University of Texas and Tasuku Honjo of Japan’s Kyoto University of how to stimulate the immune system’s ability to attack tumors “absolutely paved the way for a new approach to cancer treatment.”
The two researchers won the Nobel Prize in Medicine on Monday.
Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of the melanoma and immunotherapeutics service at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told the Associated Press that “an untold number of lives ... have been saved by the science that they pioneered.”
He says the idea of blocking the brakes on immune system cells has led to drugs for the skin cancer melanoma, and cancers of the lung, head and neck, bladder, kidney, and liver.
Wolchok added that just last week such a drug was approved to treat another kind of skin cancer called squamous cell cancer.
The American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer says he and colleagues gave a celebratory toast to Jim Allison at a party on Friday -- days before the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Medicine -- because they agreed this could be his year.
Dr. Otis W. Brawley, a close friend of Allison’s, says the Nobel committee usually waits about ten years to make sure a scientific discovery “sticks as being really important.”
And he says Allison’s work a decade ago “really opened up immunotherapy” as a fifth pillar of cancer treatments, after surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and precision therapy.
He says “the discovery of Jim Allison led to the first drug that routinely caused patients with a metastatic disease — melanoma — - to go into complete remission.”
And he says drug -- Ipilimumab, which is sold as Yervoy -- “is the first immunotherapy that routinely allowed patients in many instances to live better-quality, longer lives.”
Immunologist Tasuku Honjo of Japan, co-winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in medicine, says began his research after a medical school classmate died from stomach cancer less than two years after it was discovered.
The 76-year-old, speaking Monday at Kyoto University in Japan after the Nobel was announced in Stockholm, says his biggest reward now is to hear from cancer patients who have regained their health after being treated.
Honjo, an avid golf player, said a member of a golf club once walked up to him suddenly, thanking him for the discovery that treated his lung cancer.
Honjo says “He told me, ‘Thanks to you I can play golf again.’ ...That was a blissful moment. A comment like that makes me happier than any prize.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has congratulated Nobel Prize winner Tasuku Honjo of Japan.
Abe called into a news conference that Honjo was speaking at on Monday after the immunologist won the 2018 medicine prize.
Japan’s leader said over a speaker phone that Honjo’s research had given many patients hope. Abe added that as a Japanese, he feels proud. He encouraged the 76-year-old Kyoto University researcher to keep up the good work.
Honjo and James Allison of the University of Texas were jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in medicine.
The approach to cancer treatment that was honored with today’s Nobel Prize was used for treating former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.
Carter was diagnosed in 2015 with the skin cancer melanoma, which had spread to his brain. One of his treatments was a drug that blocked the immune-cell “brake” studied by new Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo.
Carter announced in 2016 that he no longer needed treatment.
— This item clarifies that the drug was one of Carter’s treatments, not his only treatment.
Nobel Prize winner Tasuku Honjo of Japan says what makes him most delighted is when he hears from patients who have recovered from serious illness because of his research.
The immunologist said Monday at a news conference at Kyoto University that he is honored and delighted by the award. He and James Allison of the University of Texas were jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in medicine.
Honjo, 76, said he wants to continue his research to save more cancer patients. He thanked the colleagues, students and family who have supported him in his research for such a long time.
American Dr. James Allison says he’s “honored and humbled” to receive this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine, for his discovery of how to release a protein that works as a brake on the human immune system, unleashing immune cells to attack tumors.
Allison says he didn’t set out to study cancer, but to better “understand the biology of T cells, these incredible cells that travel our bodies and work to protect us.”
That research has led to a treatment known as “immune checkpoint blockade,” and Allison says he’s been able to meet cancer survivors who are living proof of its power.
Allison takes care in his statement from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to give credit to “a succession of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and colleagues at MD Anderson, the University of California, Berkeley, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center” who joined in the research.
Allison receives the prize jointly with Tasuku Honjo, 76, of Japan.
The two winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology made discoveries that “constitute a landmark in our fight against cancer,” according to a statement from the Nobel Assembly of the Karolinska Institute that awarded the prize.
James Allison of the University of Texas and Tasuku Honjo of Japan’s Kyoto University did parallel work to stimulate the body’s immune system’s ability to attack tumors.
Allison studied a protein that acts as a brake on the immune system and the potential of releasing that brake.
Honjo separately discovered a new protein on immune cells and eventually found that it also acts as a brake.
“Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer,” the assembly said in a statement.
Releasing the potential of immune cells to attack cancers joins other treatments including surgery, radiation and drugs.
The citation for this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine says the two honorees developed therapies for treating cancer.
American James Allison studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system.
He realized the potential of releasing the brake and unleashing immune cells to attack tumors. He developed this concept into a new approach for treating patients.
Tasuku Honjo of Japan “discovered a protein on immune cells and revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer.”
The Nobel Prize in Medicine has been jointly awarded to James Allison of the University of Texas and Tasuku Honjo of Japan’s Kyoto University for discovering a form of cancer therapy.
The 9 million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize was announced Monday by the Nobel Assembly of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute.
This year’s Nobel Prize recipients will be revealed starting Monday with the prize for medicine or physiology.
The Nobel Assembly of the Karolinska Institute — 50 professors at the Stockholm facility — chooses the winner or winners of the prize honoring research into the microscopic mechanisms of life and ways to fend off invaders that cut it short. A maximum of three laureates are selected.
Last year’s prize went to three Americans for work in identifying genes and proteins that work in the body’s biological clock, which affects functions such as sleep patterns, blood pressure and eating habits.
The physics prize is to be announced Tuesday, followed by chemistry. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be named Friday. No literature prize is being given this year.
Follow the AP’s coverage as the 2018 Nobel Prizes are awarded at https://apnews.com/tag/NobelPrizes