Japanese scientist Tasuku Honjo was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine on Oct. 1 for his discovery of a protein that contributed to the development of an immunotherapeutic drug against cancer.
Honjo, a 76-year-old professor at Kyoto University, won the prize with American scientist James Allison, the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute said. Honjo opened a pathway for a new cancer treatment by discovering the PD-1 protein, which is responsible for suppressing immune response.
“I’m very honored and pleased to receive the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine,” Honjo told a news conference following the announcement.
“I’d like to continue the study a bit more so that this immunotherapy can further assist cancer patients in the future,” he said.
His method of treating cancer — by controlling the protein’s function to suppress immunity — led to the development of Nivolumab, a drug marketed as Opdivo and used against lung cancer and melanoma.
The Nobel Assembly said after announcing the prize in Stockholm that the therapy “has now revolutionized cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed.”
Honjo is the fifth Japanese to win the Nobel Prize in medicine. (Kyodo, Reuters)