"" Ralph Moss—Cancer Consultant: 2018-09-30

Monday, October 1, 2018


James P. Allison, PhD, of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston (l.), and Tasuku Honjo, MD, PhD, of Kyoto University (r.) will share the 2018 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, the Nobel Committee announced today (October 1, 2018). This was for their work in the discoveries relating to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) as an effective new cancer treatment. This has firmly established immunotherapy as the fourth modality of cancer treatment (after surgery, radiation and chemotherapy). It has also provide a new way of viewing the battle between cancer and the immune system.

Readers of this blog are familiar with this concept, as I have been writing about it for quite a while now. Almost two years ago I wrote a brief history of immune checkpoint inhibitors, drawing the links between this work and certain pioneers of complementary medicine, such as the great William B. Coley, his daughter Helen Coley Nauts, Lloyd J. Old, Lawrence Burton and others.

Some readers will remember that in my last blog entry, two weeks ago, I concluded with the following words:

"The development of immune checkpoint blockade drugs, first approved in 2011, has been among the most important breakthrough in cancer treatment. I believe that James P. Allison, PhD, of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, is fully deserving of a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for this epochal discovery." 

So, needless to say, I am excited and gratified by today's announcement from Stockholm.

I also stated, in reference to the recent article by Kleef et al on the use of low-dose immune checkpoint inhibitors in triple negative breast cancer:

"But Ralf Kleef [of Vienna], Tibor Bakacs [of Budapest] and their medical collaborators also deserve great credit, since they have paved the way for a safer and more effective method of using these same agents."

Today's announcement fully justifies the excitement that many in the cancer field feel about the development of immune checkpoint inhibitors. Through the work of Kleef, et al., these drugs can be skillfully incorporated into a holistic and complementary regimen to reduce side effects (which can be serious or severe) and improve the clinical outcome for many patients.