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The MRF Congratulates 2018 Nobel Prize Recipients

The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) extends its sincerest congratulations to James P. Allison, Ph.D. and Tasuku Honjo, MD, Ph.D, whose groundbreaking work in cancer immunotherapy has earned the Nobel Prize in Medicine. In the official announcement, the Nobel committee characterized their research as a “landmark in our fight against cancer” and that this work “revolutionized cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed.” While multiple cancer types have since followed, the melanoma community was the first to benefit from advances in the immunotherapy field.

Dr. Allison, chair of the department of immunology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, has studied a protein called CTLA-4 and its role as a “brake” on the immune system. Restricting this protein and releasing the brake activates the body’s immune system to attack tumor cells. Dr. Honjo is a distinguished professor at the Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study and a professor in Kyoto University’s department of immunology and genomic medicine. His discovery of a protein called Programmed Cell Death Protein 1 (PD-1), which influences whether or not cells grow into tumors, has been a key advance in the development of new immunotherapy treatments.

“We are in an exciting time for melanoma research and treatment development,” said Kyleigh LiPira, CEO of the Melanoma Research Foundation. “The pioneering work of Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo has been instrumental to the tremendous progress we have made. This research continues to advance our understanding of melanoma and will lead to better outcomes for melanoma patients and their families.”

In a testament to their remarkable careers dedicated to medical research, Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo have previously received numerous prestigious awards and recognition. Today’s announcement of the 2018 Nobel Prize is a well-deserved honor and appropriate recognition for the immense contributions Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo have made to the patients, survivors and caregivers of the melanoma community.

Learn more about the MRF's commitment to advancing the field of melanoma science in the MRF Research Center.