Cancer immunotherapy research bags the 2018 Nobel Prize for Medicine


Patient Education

Cancer immunotherapy research bags the 2018 Nobel Prize for Medicine

The idea of using the immune system to battle cancer has been around for more than a hundred years. However, it is only recently that pioneering breakthroughs in cancer research have led to immunotherapy drugs being  available to treat a wide range of cancers including melanoma ( skin cancer), lung cancer ( small cell and non-small cell), kidney cancer, bladder, cancer, head and neck cancer and Hodgkins Lymphoma. This list is likely to continue growing in the coming years.

Dr James P. Allison and Dr Tasuku Honjo have been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work in cancer immunotherapy. Dr James P. Allison, 70, is the chair of the department of immunology at MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas. Dr Tasuku Honjo, 76, is a distinguished professor at the Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study in Japan.

Their pioneering research elucidated the mechanisms on how cancer evades the immune system. They identified how certain proteins act as “brakes” on the immune system’s T-cells and limit their ability to attack cancer cells. By blocking or switching off these proteins, they theorized that the immune system would be reactivated to kill the cancer. Their seminal work led to the development and availability of an entirely new class of drugs that has brought lasting remissions to many advanced cancer patients without further treatment options. Dr. Allison identified a checkpoint called CTLA-4; Dr. Honjo found a different one, called PD-1. We now have drugs that block both these proteins and are used to treat a variety of cancers.

The OncoCare group of doctors and nurses congratulate Dr Allison and Dr Honjo on their well-deserved recognition and Nobel Prize! We are indeed glad that the new class of immunotherapy is now available to patients at OncoCare Cancer Centre (Singapore). We strive to ensure that the benefits of this and similar ground-breaking research with cancer immunotherapy are delivered to our patients.




“Expert knowledge means better care for cancer”

Written by:

Dr Tay Miah Hiang  Dr Peter Ang
MBBS (Singapore)  MBBS (Singapore)
M.Med (Singapore)  M.Med (Singapore)
MRCP (United Kingdom)
MRCP (United Kingdom)
FAMS (Medical Oncology) FAMS (Medical Oncology)