Two scientists share 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Nobel prize laureates James P. Allison left and Tasuku Honjo are shown during the presentation in Stockholm on Oct. 1

The duo will share the Nobel prize sum of about $1.01 million (nine million Swedish kronor or 870,000 euros).

"I was told by the Nobel committee when I was called this morning that this was the first prize they've ever given for cancer therapy", he said.

The Kyoto University website describes Tasuku Honjo as "quiet man". When these brakes are neutralized, the white blood cells can get to work on destroying cancer cells.

"A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge", Allison said in a written statement released by the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

A previous version of this story identified Allison as affiliated with University of Texas at Austin. The Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Sciences will be announced on Monday, October 8.

He has been awarded the 2018 King Faisal Prize in Medicine for his outstanding contribution to the development of the field of immunotherapy for cancer.

In the early 1990s, Allison had been studying a protein called CTLA-4, which sits in the outer layer - the membrane - of an active T-cell and behaves like an off-switch.

The methods are responsible for the development of cancer immunotherapy, which is included with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy as approaches to fighting cancer. In a key mouse experiment around Christmas 1994, Allison found that when mice with cancer were treated with CTLA-4-blocking antibodies, they were cured.

He has spent a large part of his career studying devising strategies to fight cancer by studying the regulation of T cell responses in the human body.

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"I never dreamed my research would take the direction it has", Allison adds. Allison developed this idea into a new type of cancer treatment. He announced about a year later that he no longer needed treatment.

Allison and Honjo discovered two different "brake" proteins that act slightly differently.

Shigeko, who studied mathematics and science at university, said the Nobel Prize made her think she can now let go of the years of supporting her family while her husband went from job to job, forcing their children to change schools.

"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.

Professor Allison works at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

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.

Meanwhile, the fact that the literature prize will not be handed over this year has grabbed several headlines.

In other Nobel Prize announcements, the physics prize will be announced Tuesday, followed by chemistry on Wednesday and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

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