In winning this year's Nobel Prize, Honjo and Allison are credited with pioneering the burgeoning and promising new field of "immunotherapy", a method that harness the power of the body to help heal itself.
Checkpoint inhibitors now available to patients can be used to treat lung, kidney, bladder, head and neck cancers as well as aggressive skin cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma, reports Denise Grady for The New York Times.
The two immunologists - from the USA and Japan, respectively - were awarded the Prize "for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation". "Clearly, immunotherapy now has taken its place along with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation as a reliable and objective way to treat cancer".
"'Immune checkpoint therapy' has revolutionized cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed", a tweet from the official Twitter account of the Nobel Prize said. Ipilimumab, which has the brand name Yervoy, was approved for late-stage melanoma by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2011 and became the first to extend the survival of patients with late-stage melanoma.
Honjo, who became a Kyoto University professor emeritus in 2005, is the fifth Japanese victor of a Nobel medicine prize. The main focus of their research was to make sense of how cancer rendered the immune system weak and how the immune system could be enabled to fight back against the tumor. He and James Allison of the University of Texas were jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in medicine. Until their discoveries, clinical development into the subject was modest.
"I was doing basic science to do basic science, but you know, I had the good opportunity to see it develop into something that actually does people good", Allison said.
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". By releasing that brake, Honjo's research had found a "strikingly effective" treatment against cancer.
This type of therapy is a new approach in cancer treatment.
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Patrick Leblond, a University of Ottawa trade expert, said it doesn't give the USA a veto over Canada's trade policy. Wenweipo, a pro-Beijing newspaper based in Hong Kong, ran an article on October 2, titled, "Canada and the U.S.
"I was able to prove that it's not rare for fundamental research to lead to applications", Honjo said at a press conference held at the Japanese university in the city of Kyoto before the interview.
The 76-year-old Honjo - a professor emeritus at Kyoto University known for his discovery of a protein that contributed to the development of an immunotherapeutic drug against cancer - is the 26th Japanese Nobel prize victor.
Around the same time, Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells, the ligand PD-1, and eventually realised that it also worked as a brake but in a different way.
The already much-heralded University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has just scored global bragging rights.
In December, Allison will be honored at the Nobel ceremonies in Stockholm - and he said that he looks forward to seeing fellow honoree Honjo in Stockholm, as well.
"I want to continue my research... so that this immune therapy will save more cancer patients than ever", he told reporters at the University of Kyoto where he is based.
The Swedish Academy canceled this year's literature prize as a result of the crisis.
The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded in Oslo on Friday, while the announcement of the economics prize will cap off this year's Nobel season on October 8.