Noble Prize 2018 in Medicine - Immunotherapy - Seeker's Thoughts

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Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Noble Prize 2018 in Medicine - Immunotherapy

Introduction: Noble prize in medicine for cancer research
Cancer is leading cause of death worldwide. It accounted for 8.2 million deaths in 2012 world wide. Cancer cause the most death each year by several type of cancers like lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancer. Death from cancer worldwide are projected to rise with an estimated 13.1 million deaths upto 2030 that shows almost 70% increase in cancer related death. 
Different areas of the world may have  different cancers  stomach cancer is often found in Japan, while it is rarely found in the U.S.  and this usually represents a combination and genetic factors.
2018 Noble Prize in physiology or medicine has been jointly awarded to James p. Allison and Tasuku Honjo, Stockholm by the noble committee of the Karolinska institute. The immunologists – are from U.S and Japan for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in a body, there are over 200 types of cancer. Cancer starts when a cell is somehow altered so that it multiplies out of control. A tumor is a mass composed of a cluster of such abnormal cells.
Cancers continue to grow and spread by direct extension of through a process called metastasis, where by the malignant cells travel through the lymphatic or blood vessels—eventually forming new tumors in other parts of the body.

Noble laureates’ discoveries 
The pair found "revolutionized cancer treatment" based on the triggering immune system to attack on tumor cell.  Immune system automatically fight with disease in human body, that is an understood fact. However, sometimes body functioning chances and immune cells do not recognize the threat of cancer. So, James Allison and Tasuku Honjo both discovered the protein which trigger immune cells to attack on tumor cell. 
The known protein CTLA-4 is a protein that stops immune system from attacking or can be understood as a brake on the immune system like brake in car to control speed. 
This protein controls immune system, and when CLTA-4 is controlled, the immune system can work against cancer cells. 
Another protein PD-1 , similar to CLTA-4 function as T cell brake. T cells are immunity cell again and that means that PD-1 is the protein which controls the T cells to fight against bacteria and viruses. 
These immune cell often have mechanism to identify that which cell to attack. 
For example immune system can be understood as the army of body, which protects body from viruses, bacteria and other harmful things. These PD-1 and CLTA-1 are like regulator of these army of T cells, and other immune cells which stopped them when not to fight or commanded when to fight. 
So, basically these proteins can guide immune cells to fight against cancer. 
The good thing of this discovery is that, cancer had various painful therapies or checkpoint inhibitor therapy  and those were immensely harmful too. When body's immune system fights with cancer cells, this will be far more effective and in conclusion, it has been proven to be effective on cancer patients. 
Some more facts- This therapy of triggering immune cell has been in practice for hundreds of years. However, the result of these protein identification have been tremendous. 
This therapy of using CTLA-4 protein and PD-1 is also known as checkpoint therapy or immunotherapy.  This therapy has revolutionized the cancer treatment. These checkpoint protein are being tested more as a target.  
Noble prizes in physiology or medicine
The noble prize in physiology or medicine is awarded annually in the Swedish Karolinska institute by the Swedish and doctors in the several fields of physiology or medicine, it was established in the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel who dies in 1896. it has been giving in various fields like in chemistry, physics, literature peace and physiology or medicine to those who have given brilliant contribution in these fields.