Nobel Prize 2018 in Medicine awarded for the discovery of cancer immunotherapy

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<pre>Nobel Prize 2018 in Medicine awarded for the discovery of cancer immunotherapy

The International Committee announced the Nobel Prize winners in the medical field in 2018: Tasuka Hondze and James Ellison. Independently from each other back in the 90s, they began to study a special category of proteins that hampered the functioning of the human immune system. In the course of research, scientists have our ways to influence these processes and direct the power of immunity to fight cancer cells.

In a normal state, armies of T-cells, a kind of immune system intelligence, constantly ply throughout the human body. They are looking for alien living forms, such as viruses, bacteria, cancer cells, to immediately attach to them and give an alarm. T-cells in this case act as beacons for targeting, and special proteins are involved in organizing the attack — Allison studied CTLA-4, and Hondze worked with PD-1. These proteins limit the impact of the immune system on the target so that it does not come out too powerful and does not damage the surrounding normal cells.

The problem is that cancer cells cannot be defeated with a weak blow; this is exactly the case when it is better to overdo it to save the organism as a whole at the cost of small victims. Khondze and Allison looked for and found ways to block the work of the desired proteins so that they would stop restricting the immune response. The only difference is in the approaches – in one case, protein inhibitor substances were delivered in nanocapsules to tumors, and in the other, the protein ceased to be reproduced altogether due to the correction of the genome using CRISPR.

All together it became the basis for a new and extremely promising direction in medicine: oncological immunotherapy. If a person really teaches his body to attack cancer cells, even if on command from the outside, this could be a turning point in the fight against cancer. Both scientists have more than earned the respect of the scientific community and their Nobel Prizes.

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