James Allison, James Gallagher, Greg Winter discussed on Morning Edition

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Mascot is deciding for itself there is a tournament manager which is kind of application which is running on our on bought software in which decides when the instruments are turned on for example, or if the mobility has to be activated. And if I'm right when we're talking mascot has been there for about twelve or thirteen hours. So I guess it's working time is almost over if based on the estimation, which we have from our experience and our test, then we. Expect roughly sixteen hours of operation, but I have to admit that. Although I'm very tired. I would be happy to stay far more hours. Well, he's absolutely brilliant. When you get this arms back. We'll definitely going to talk to you again. Thank you so much for talking to an action. Thank you throw me ho of the German, aerospace centre, finally. That time of year when scientists wonder whether they'll get that call from Stockholm saying that their work has been marked above all others is worthy of a Nobel. Find selection came up this week, including the first woman to get the call from the physics committee in fifty five years before that for the medicine prize, James Allison and Tatsuko hun-jo for their discoveries that lead to immunotherapy for cancer home. People tell me that they have recovered from grave illness and can healthy, thanks to my treatment methods. And that to me that about everything else makes me realize that my research has been truly meaningful, and it makes me this morning when the committee member, call me Nobel, you know, he said, this is the first time we've ever given on award for any kind of cancer therapy. So yeah. Well, good that should give people James Allison on the BBC early this week getting the chance to explain his groundbreaking work. The last thirty years fed figure out how T-cells work, you know, the soldiers immune system, we figured out mid nineties or two signals required to get started one antigen receptor signal just Cadillac ignition. Switch on a car another molecule kind of like the gas pedal, but ten mid-nineties we show them another. You'll actually served as the break stop at immune response before it can damage normal tissues. So I had the idea that, you know, maybe this break was stopping immune responses before they could totally eliminate cancers. And if we just disabled the brakes temporarily we conducted teachers keep going for as long as they needed to completely eliminate tumors two thousand one. Succeeded in getting the first phase one clinical trial. Their objective response is the very first trial. Of course, we didn't notice time, but one of the people in that trial. They got a single treatment is still alive. Eighteen years later, I'm joined by James Gallagher, BBC health and science correspondent James immunotherapy really is a big game changer in cancer treatment. It absolutely is. If you go back near even decade, or so you had surgery you had radiotherapy had drugs that talked to the cancer. Immunotherapy is now the fourth pillar of cancer treatment, and it is being used in hostels all around the world down. Now. What's interesting about this price is you can talk about the applications of it. But it goes back some very pure science. It does it comes down to how the immune system works. And if you think about your immune system, we all think which role in attacking infections virus or bacterium notes in the wrong place. But it also make sure that our own cells are doing what they're supposed to be doing. And if they start going. Rogue then it kills them off. Now, how does it do that? Because he needs to have checks and balances, and it needs to have ways of going with this is a danger. I need to be more aggressive, but also ways of going, whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Let's calm everything down. Everything's okay here. And James Allison talked a nations about brakes and acceleration and taking off the break was the phrase used exactly. So what Kansas do is they find a way of tapping into those breaks, they find ways of turning off the immune system. Therefore, they become practically invisible and can proliferate and become a foreign Chima. Now, there are a couple of ways they do that. So more than shake my hand on a chemical level role. And that is how immune cells and other cells communicate with each other. They from chemical handshakes one of these chemicals ACT LA four because I know you love getting right? And that's the one Allison discovered. I and what that does is it what's known as immune checkpoint, and it disables the immune Salva t Selva comes along to kill us out. And if the cancer has it, then it's. Visible and continues to grow. What he discovered was. If you broke that with an immune checkpoint inhibitor, then that stops the disabling if he needs system, and it can keep on killing the cancer. So that's the kind of Greece or a blocker to stop the handshake. Exactly. Just imagine that we going Tajik and certainly app producer fi get in the middle of it goes. Fee is a cancer drug, and it can be applied in a whole range of cancers. The big work so far has been on things like melanoma and lung cancer. And the reason it started there is because they're so heavily mutated because they're exposed to things like smoking or UV damage, they they become very visible to the immune system normally. But yet it's being investigated everywhere. Now, what's very interesting for me is the chemistry prize. This year comes in two parts, one of which again is to do with the immune system and cancers. Yes, welcome to the funky world of monoclonal antibodies. The price hasn't been one for monoclonal antibodies. Put a better way of finding the ones that work. So an antibody is something that binds to a protein on the surface of a Sal. And that's how he started drawing the rest of the immune system. Think of them as like missiles fight off by the system, you can make them in the lab, and then they can have a medical role to if you tip them inside patient now, how do you find the right antibody that works, and that's what the prize is being awarded for this way of creating a huge array of antibodies, and then fishing the right ones that hit the target that you want it to hit and then refining that process. So you get a really good match between the antibody and your target James Gallagher vanquished ram, a Christian Krishnan, who's president of the Royal Society, and is himself a Nobel laureate works at the laboratory for molecular. Biology where one of those laureates Greg winter did his research. So you know, him well van key? Yes. I should say I owe him a personal debt because his humanized therapeutic antibodies helped save both my wife's and my brother-in-law's lives because they both had lymphoma and were treated with monoclonal antibodies just brings it home. It's interesting because the loss of the work at your lab is done at the pure end of science. And this is a really interesting example, the work on these monoclonal antibodies really gets into medicine you have to give Greg a lot of credit for that though. Because when he realized the potential of what he was doing. He took active steps to commercialize it. He even set up companies. And of course, now, it's a multibillion dollar business. Six of the top ten selling drugs are monoclonal antibodies against a variety of diseases from arthritis to cancer to all sorts of things, and there it is interesting connection antibodies there the foot soldiers of the immune system, the medicine and physiology prize was about sort of boosting the body's own ability to do this. Yes. But this is one way a sort of Nicole intervention into the sort of supplementing the body's own abilities. If you like. So antibodies are proteins that the immune system naturally makes. And they have the ability to target a molecule and bind to it. And what grade figured out how to make these antibodies and make them in a humanize way. So when you inject them into humans, our body won't think of them as foreign and will accept them. And then he also figured out a way on how to improve the binding of the antibodies to its target, and the Nobel committee makes this important point that this is using eve Lucia Shima lab. Yes, exactly. So you have the target and you produce a whole library these antibodies, and then some of them will bind more tightly to your target. You choose them and then you amplify them. And then you go to the next round and choose the tighter of those. And so after a few rounds, you have an antibody that binds very tightly Tijuana says kind of designer immunity, I wouldn't say it's designer because you didn't assign anything you let the system choose. And that's. In fact, the opposite of design you're letting ever Lucien of selection. Choose what antibody to produce. I challenge the word design because the winner of the other half of the chemistry prize told this program two years ago that eve Lucien is the best designer of all time Francis. Arnold was on science in action actually twice in two thousand sixteen. I when she was the first woman to win the much thought millennium prize for her chemistry using so called directed. Evolution and the second time for experiments using it to incorporate the elephants silicon into living molecules, it's really very simple to direct the evolution of proteins because we can mutate the DNA that encodes a protein we can make thousands of versions of a protein and rapidly search through those to see which ones are better at something that we're interested and this whole idea that evolution can be used rapidly to solve human problems. I think is very. Powerful in especially for inventing, new chemistry. The physics prize like the chemistry. One comes into pass both to do.

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