There will al­ways be cancer

But we will beat some kinds, No­bel-win­ning doc­tors say

Winnipeg Sun - - LIFE - IVANA BZGANOVIC The As­so­ci­ated Press — Jim Heintz in Moscow con­trib­uted to this re­port

STOCK­HOLM — The win­ners of this year’s No­bel Prize for Medicine say they ex­pect sub­stan­tial ad­vances to­ward treat­ing cancer in the next sev­eral decades, al­though it is un­likely the dis­ease could be erad­i­cated.

James Al­li­son of the United States and Ta­suku Honjo of Ja­pan made the as­sess­ments at a Thurs­day news con­fer­ence ahead of re­ceiv­ing the 9 mil­lion-kro­nor ($999,000) prize.

They were named win­ners of the prize in Oc­to­ber for their work in im­munother­apy — ac­ti­vat­ing the body’s nat­u­ral de­fence sys­tem to fight tu­mors.

“Soon we’ll get close with some can­cers,” Al­li­son said, cit­ing progress against some forms in­clud­ing melanoma. But, he said, “the world will never be cancer-free.”

Honjo said he ex­pects that im­munother­apy will even­tu­ally be used against most can­cers, of­ten in com­bi­na­tion with ra­di­a­tion or chemo­ther­apy, and that cancer can ef­fec­tively be stalled “even if we can­not com­pletely elim­i­nate the tu­mour, if we can sur­vive with some tu­mour.”

“I think what is com­ing next are triple com­bi­na­tions and quadru­ple com­bi­na­tions,” Al­li­son said.

Al­though im­munother­apy is an ad­vance against cancer treat­ment, the costs are high, with cour­ses of treat­ment re­port­edly ex­ceed­ing $100,000.

“Some­thing’s go­ing to hap­pen” about the cost, Al­li­son said. “These high prices are not just a fea­ture of these drugs — it’s al­most ev­ery­thing . ... It’s out of control. We’ve just got to hope that with com­pe­ti­tion and wis­dom the prices will come down.”

Al­li­son, af­ter not­ing that some of his share of the prize would have to be paid in taxes, said he in­tends to do­nate what’s left to sup­port oth­ers work­ing in the field and to a char­ity that sup­ports schools for women. Honjo said his half will be given to his in­sti­tu­tion, Ky­oto Univer­sity, to fund young re­searchers.

The No­bel Prizes are to be awarded on Mon­day. The medicine, physics, chem­istry and eco­nomics prizes will be given out in Stock­holm and the peace prize in Oslo. No lit­er­a­ture lau­re­ate was named this year.


Ta­suko Honjo, left, and James P. Al­li­son, win­ners of this years No­bel Prize for Medicine, speak at a press con­fer­ence in Stock­holm.

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