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Were ‘crucial contributors’ snubbed in awarding Nobel prize for cancer immunotherapy?

| | October 5, 2018

[I]t’s rare that Nobel announcements don’t produce grumblings about who was left out, and this year was no exception. At least three other scientists were major contributors to the basic research that led to cancer immunotherapy.

[James] Allison won for discovering that a molecule on the surface of the immune system’s T cells, called CTLA-4, acts as a “checkpoint inhibitor” (a term he coined), a biological brake on the T cells, and that jamming the brake (including with an antibody that he developed) can unleash those T cells to fight cancer. [Tasuku] Honjo discovered another such checkpoint, called PD-1, that also keeps T cells from attacking cancer cells.

At an immuno-oncology meeting in New York — where on Monday [Oct. 1] afternoon Allison was greeted like a rock star, with scientists asking for his autograph and requesting selfies — three experts in cancer immunotherapy said they were “shocked” that [other] scientists who were key to the development of checkpoint inhibitors that exploit the PD-1 pathway were overlooked.

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The 2018 medicine Nobel is only the latest where the rule of three gives a misleading impression of how science is done. Because it perpetuates the lone genius myth, said Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of Britain’s Medical Research Council, a winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry and president of the Royal Society, “the rule of three is inappropriate to 21st-century science.”

Read full, original post: The snub club: Crucial contributors to cancer immunotherapy were excluded from the medicine Nobel

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