For­eign sci­en­tists hon­ored for can­cer re­search

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­

James Al­li­son of the United States and Ta­suku Honjo of Ja­pan each re­ceived the Fu­dan-Zhongzhi Sci­ence Award in Shang­hai on Dec 17 for their out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to im­munother­apy that have been proven to pro­long the sur­vival of pa­tients suf­fer­ing from par­tic­u­lar types of can­cer.

Melanoma pa­tients, when left un­treated, have a me­dian sur­vival pe­riod of just 11 months. Those who are treated with con­ven­tional drugs live only about four months longer.

Based on Al­li­son’s treat­ment method, which in­volves ad­min­is­ter­ing four in­jec­tions ev­ery three weeks, 22 per­cent of melanoma pa­tients will still live af­ter 10 years. Honjo’s treat­ment method, which is ad­min­is­tered to the pa­tient ev­ery two weeks for as long as two years, in­creases this ra­tio to 26 per­cent.

The premise of their treat­ment meth­ods lies in us­ing an­ti­bod­ies to sup­press cer­tain genes that act as a brak­ing mech­a­nism in the im­mune re­sponse. By do­ing so, the pa­tient’s im­mune sys­tem would be able to bet­ter fight against can­cer.

“When the two im­mune treat­ments are com­bined, the sur­vival rate would be raised to around 60 per­cent. It’s been three years and tens of thou­sands of pa­tients have al­ready been treated by this com­bi­na­tion,” Al­li­son told China Daily.

The Fu­dan-Zhongzhi Sci­ence Award was jointly founded by Shang­hai-based Fu­dan Univer­sity and Zhongzhi En­ter­prise Group, an as­set man­age­ment en­tity head­quar­tered in Bei­jing. This was the first time the

The best news I think is that we now know the ba­sic rules of can­cer treat­ment. ”

award was pre­sented.

Ac­cord­ing to Fu­dan Univer­sity, can­di­dates for the award rep­re­sent cut­tingedge global in­no­va­tion stan­dards in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy that can sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the qual­ity of hu­man lives.

“The best news I think is that we now know the ba­sic rules of can­cer treat­ment. For melanoma, for ex­am­ple, the sur­vival curve drops in the first two years and at about three years it plateaus and re­mains so for 10 years. So the key here is to pro­long sur­vival for those who don’t die in the first two years,” said Al­li­son.

Im­munother­apy is now widely ac­cepted as an­other pil­lar in can­cer re­search, in ad­di­tion to surgery, ra­di­a­tion, chemo­ther­apy and gene-tar­geted drugs.

Al­li­son said that this treat­ment method will be­come a stan­dard part of can­cer treat­ment and that it would alone be enough to save many of those suf­fer­ing from melanoma and lung can­cer.

Al­li­son’s treat­ment method has al­ready been used to treat pa­tients in the United States suf­fer­ing from lung can­cer, kid­ney can­cer, and head and neck can­cer, while Honjo’s has been used in Ja­pan and coun­tries in the Euro­pean Union.

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