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 student honoured with NSW National Council of Women Australia Day Award
10 Feb 2017

MIA student honoured with NSW National Council of Women Australia Day Award

Congratulations to PhD Student, Tuba Nur Gide who was awarded a NSW National Council of Women Australia Day Award for her PhD research work. 

Melanoma Institute Australia joins forces with Wollongong Wolves in the fight against melanoma
06 Feb 2017

Melanoma Institute Australia joins forces with Wollongong Wolves in the fight against melanoma

Melanoma Institute Australia, is joining forces with the Wollongong Wolves Football Club in the battle to reduce Australia’s melanoma rates.

 

Follow-up scans after surgery for melanoma
25 Jan 2017

Follow-up scans after surgery for melanoma

A new research project will evaluate the benefits and economic implications of CT and PET/CT imaging in patients with asymptomatic Stage III melanoma.

Sunscreen tips for a skin smart summer!
25 Jan 2017

Sunscreen tips for a skin smart summer!

Sunscreen tips for a skin smart summer with the help of Professor Pascale Guitera, Dermatologist Associate for Melanoma Institute Australia.

Improving survival in uveal melanoma
11 Jan 2017

Improving survival in uveal melanoma

Although survival rates for people with skin melanoma are increasing, these promises of hope are not being seen in uveal melanoma. Researchers are desperately trying to uncover new ways to treat this disease.

Melanoma patient, Lucinda Ryan taking on melanoma one step at a time
21 Dec 2016

Melanoma prevention and awareness on 720 ABC Perth

Lucinda Ryan and Carole Renouf talking about melanoma preventation and awareness on 720 ABC Perth.

Melanoma research gets a funding boost from NHMRC
09 Dec 2016

Melanoma research gets a funding boost from NHMRC

Research projects led by MIA have been awarded almost $6 million in the latest NHMRC funding round which will enable vital progression of research into melanoma prevention and treatment.

Challenges in melanoma clinical research: A snapshot from the Australasian Melanoma Conference 2016
05 Dec 2016

Challenges in melanoma clinical research

The last decade has seen a surge in therapeutic options for advanced melanoma patients, thanks to research. However, not every patient responds to treatment and researchers are taking on the challenge to find out why.

Global Melanoma Research Report
01 Dec 2016

Global Melanoma Research Report

Our first Global Melanoma Research Report shares selected research from around the world and here at MIA that is making a difference to the lives of melanoma patients now and in the future.

Announcement from Melanoma Institute Australia
24 Nov 2016

Announcement from Melanoma Institute Australia

After 18 years as Director of the Sydney Melanoma Unit and then Executive Director of Melanoma Institute Australia, Professor John Thompson AO will step down from the position at the end of 2016.

Nine practice points from the new melanoma guidelines
17 Nov 2016

Nine practice points from the new melanoma guidelines

Australian melanoma clinical practice guidelines have been published on a wiki platform for the first time as researchers try to keep up to date with emerging evidence.  

Melanoma under 40
17 Nov 2016

Melanoma under 40

Carole Renouf, CEO of Melanoma Institute Australia is asking young Australians who have been affected by melanoma to share their experiences with her.

Don't let sunburn be your summer holiday souvenir
11 Nov 2016

Don't let sunburn be your summer holiday souvenir

Melanoma Institute Australia CEO Carole Renouf wants to make sure Aussies remember to take care of our skin as the festive season draws closer and we spend more time in the sun.

Using clinical features to identify patients at high risk for melanoma
10 Nov 2016

Using clinical features to identify patients at high risk for melanoma

Can an individual’s risk factors for melanoma be used to tailor skin self-examinations and surveillance programs?

MIA congratulates Professor Georgina Long
09 Nov 2016

Congratulations to Professor Georgina Long

Prof Georgina Long has been appointed President-Elect Society for Melanoma Research (SMR).

Tags: more news
Uniting our global researchers for melanoma
28 Oct 2016

Uniting our global researchers for melanoma

The Australasian Melanoma Conference is bringing together some of the world's leading researchers and clinicians.

Best practice guidelines for melanoma care go digital
28 Oct 2016

Best practice guidelines for melanoma care go digital

Best practice guidelines for melanoma care have gone digital with the first-ever online guidelines developed to adapt to the rapid change in clinical management.

Awards and honours for our talented researchers
26 Oct 2016

Awards and honours for our talented researchers

Congratulations are in order for two of our talented researchers.

5 Minutes With Prof Richard Scolyer
21 Oct 2016

5 Minutes With Prof Richard Scolyer

Professor Richard Scolyer will be sharing his expertise on melanoma pathology at the upcoming Australasian Melanoma Conference. Here he discusses what he'll be presenting on. 

Research spotlight: High Risk Clinic
10 Oct 2016

Research spotlight: High Risk Clinic

Researchers at MIA have established a High Risk Clinic to monitor people at very high risk of developing melanoma.