Nobel Prize for novel cancer therapies

Nobel Prize for novel cancer therapies

4 October 2018

Two of the men responsible for the discovery and development of checkpoint inhibitors, therapies that revolutionised the way metastatic melanoma patients are treated, extending lives and improving quality of life for countless patients, were awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Professor James P. Allison from MD Anderson Cancer Centre, and Professor Tasuku Honjo from Kyoto University were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for their separate work from the early 1990’s, where they each discovered a different protein that plays a major role in regulating the immune system.

The immune system is a balancing act – it is constantly trying to fight off foreign invaders, like viruses and bacteria, without harming the body – that relies heavily on an intricate system of brakes and accelerators. Sometimes the balance is off, resulting in autoimmune diseases where the immune system attacks the body, or diseases like cancer, where the immune system does not recognise that there is anything amiss.

Both Professor Allison and Professor Honjo discovered molecules that act as a brake in the immune system, halting its action and allowing cancers to grow. In Professor Allison’s research, he showed that blocking the molecule he discovered, CTLA-4, could switch off the brake, allowing the immune system to recognise a tumour and attack it. His work lead to the development of the melanoma fighting drug ipilimumab. Professor Honjo discovered the protein PD-1, and found that blocking it allows the immune system to recognise cancer as an invader and mount an immune response. This led to the manufacture of the immunotherapies nivolumab and pembrolizumab.

Ipilimumab, nivolumab and pembrolizumab are now used extensively to treat metastatic melanoma, working to help patient’s own bodies to recognise and fight the disease. Since these treatments have become available, melanoma patients have a better prognosis than ever before.

The two men will receive their Nobel Prizes at a formal ceremony in Stockholm in December. Five different Nobel Prizes are awarded every year, with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine given to up to three people who have made outstanding discoveries in the fields of medicine or the life sciences. Previous Nobel laureates include three of the men responsible for the discovery of DNA, and the three men who discovered penicillin.

 

Photograph: Niklas Elmehed/Twitter:NobelPrize
MIA takes centre stage at leading cancer conference
05 Jun 2019

MIA takes centre stage at leading cancer conference

Researchers from Melanoma Institute Australia took centre stage at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago. Results presented by MIA’s contingent have the potential to create better patient outcomes and change the way advanced melanoma is treated .

International Clinical Trials Day 2019
20 May 2019

International Clinical Trials Day 2019

Today is International Clinical Trials Day – a day to recognise and thank the amazing people who conduct, organise, and coordinate clinical trials.

Emma Betts' legacy will live on
17 May 2019

Emma Betts' legacy will live on

“I’m the age Emma was when she passed away. It almost feels unfair, that she has to not be here for me to be able to do this. But I will use this opportunity to push as hard as I can to reach our collective goal of zero deaths from melanoma.”

Support PBS listing for three adjuvant treatments of resected Stage III melanoma
13 May 2019

Support PBS listing for three adjuvant treatments of resected Stage III melanoma

As always, part of the PBAC process invites clinicians, patients and other stakeholders in the cancer community to make submissions in support of the PBS listing.

Support PBS listing for pembrolizumab
06 May 2019

Support PBS listing for pembrolizumab

As always, part of the PBAC process invites clinicians, patients and other stakeholders in the cancer community to make submissions in support of the PBS listing.

How are the Premier's Awards helping cancer researchers?
02 May 2019

How are the Premier's Awards helping cancer researchers?

MIA had four winners in the 2017 Premiers Awards. Find out how winning has influenced their work over the past year.

Cancer Council awards Melanoma Institute Australia researchers funding for ground-breaking cancer research projects
19 Mar 2019

Cancer Council awards Melanoma Institute Australia researchers funding for ground-breaking cancer research projects

Almost $9 million of new funding was awarded to 13 ground-breaking cancer research projects at the 2019 Cancer Council NSW Research Awards.

Making a difference to many
15 Mar 2019

Making a difference to many

Georgina V. Long is co-medical director of Melanoma Institute Australia and Chair of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Translational Research. She is the first woman president of the Society for Melanoma Research.

Aussie icon Sophie Monk calls on Australians to get behind Melanoma March
26 Feb 2019

Aussie icon Sophie Monk calls on Australians to get behind Melanoma March

Quintessential Aussie girl and media personality Sophie Monk has been announced as a National Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign, Melanoma March.

Melanoma breakthrough paves way for personalised treatment for all cancer patients
14 Feb 2019

Melanoma breakthrough paves way for personalised treatment for all cancer patients

Australian researchers have for the first time identified specific cells and receptors in the immune system which predict how a patient will respond to treatment with immunotherapies, potentially paving the way for the development of personalised therapy for all cancer patients.

Melanoma March announces 2019 Principal Partner
07 Feb 2019

Melanoma March announces 2019 Principal Partner

Melanoma March is thrilled to introduce Ricky as our official Principal Partner for 2019!

Swimming champion Cate Campbell spearheads national campaign to save lives from melanoma
05 Feb 2019

Swimming champion Cate Campbell spearheads national campaign to save lives from melanoma

World record holder, Olympian and Australian swimming champion Cate Campbell has been announced as National Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign, Melanoma March.

MIA experts collaborate on groundbreaking research
16 Jan 2019

MIA experts collaborate on groundbreaking research

MIA's expertise was essential to a recent Nature publication spearheaded by Perth’s Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Melbourne.

World-leading pathologist Associate Professor Michael Tetzlaff visits MIA
20 Dec 2018

World-leading pathologist Associate Professor Michael Tetzlaff visits MIA

MIA is delighted to be hosting the MD Anderson pathologist on his first ever trip to Australia.

Possible PBS listing for dabrafenib and trametinib
18 Dec 2018

Possible PBS listing for dabrafenib and trametinib

Clinicians, patients and other stakeholders in the cancer community are invited to make submissions in support of the PBS listing for dabrafenib and trametinib.

Arden Anglican School wins SunSafe Ambassador competition
13 Dec 2018

Arden Anglican School wins SunSafe Ambassador competition

Three students from Arden Anglican School in Epping have won Melanoma Institute Australia’s (MIA) inaugural SunSafe Student Ambassador Award.

DON'T CLOUD THE SUN-SAFE MESSAGE
08 Dec 2018

DON'T CLOUD THE SUN-SAFE MESSAGE

Mark Whittaker’s ‘Here comes the sun; Defending our summer rays’ (GW 24 Nov) clouds the sun-safe message – which could have disastrous consequences.

Professor Georgina Long named as one of world's most highly cited researchers
04 Dec 2018

Professor Georgina Long named as one of world's most highly cited researchers

Professor Georgina Long is among only 12 researchers from the University of Sydney to be named in the 2018 Highly Cited Researchers List.

Aussies need to protect themselves from 'everyday' sun damage
01 Dec 2018

Aussies need to protect themselves from 'everyday' sun damage

‘Wearing sunscreen should be as automatic as wearing a seatbelt. Both are potential life savers.

The Poche Centre to host 3D total-body imaging system as part of world-first initiative to save lives from melanoma
29 Nov 2018

The Poche Centre to host 3D total-body imaging system as part of world-first initiative to save lives from melanoma

A prestigious $10 million Australian Cancer Research Foundation grant has been awarded to ACEMID, an initiative that aims to use 3D total-body imaging and a remote medicine network to improve the detection and diagnosis of early-stage melanoma.