Foreign scientists honored for cancer research
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.