Allison's Nobel Prize beckons new era of immunotherapy

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Week. One of the more interesting Nobel prizes awarded was for that in medicine or medicine. It went to two people Dr James, Allison and Ta Su Honjo for discoveries that lead to a new way to treat cancer by targeting the body's immune system, rather than the tumors themselves. It's led to a host of new drugs. Immunotherapy is quite expensive. But people are saying that it works pretty well on certain types of lung cancer and melanoma, which is a form of skin cancer. So this story we spoke to Peter Loftus. He's a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. We started off by asking him who were these Nobel prize winners, James Allison and tests Uku Hondo. Both of them have specialized in immunology studying the body's immune system. This turned out to be a critical part of what they discovered and to put it in context, if you think about the mainstays of cancer treatment over the years. Things like chemotherapy and radiation, which were effective an effective in certain situations. But they can also be blunt instruments in the sense that they can destroy healthy cells in the body along with cancer cells. So that causes all sorts of complications going back about fifteen twenty years. There was another advance in cancer treatment. And that was the target genetic mutations in cancer cells now, immune based approaches sort of the newest wave and one of the more significant approaches to treating cancer in a long time these two scientists working separately. But in parallel discovered features about the body's immune system that led them to figure out that if used certain kinds of drugs to target immune system cells in a certain way, it'll basically better equipped the body's own immune system to go after and destroy cancer cells. So exactly how does it work. I was reading a lot about checkpoints. And how a lot of this stuff. Let's T cells, basically. Attack the cancer cells T cells are form of white blood cells. And this is where the magic really comes through in. What's so interesting about what they discovered was that the body's immune system has sort of its own natural checkpoints were break. So that it doesn't go overboard and Batak the healthy parts of the body. Cancer cells have basically figured out how to split that. And so they in some way, they sort of latch onto the brakes of the body's immune system, in a way that helps them escape described destruction. And so these drugs that have come out of the research from both sides, essentially, take the brakes off also the body. John immune

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