A screen displays portraits of James P Allison (L) and Tasuku Honjo during the announcement of the winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, during a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 1, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

STOCKHOLM: James Allison and Tasuku Honjo won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discoveries leading to breakthroughs in cancer therapy, the award-giving body said on Monday.

"Allison and Honjo showed how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer," the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said in a statement on awarding the prize of 9 million Swedish crowns ($1 million).

Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year.

The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were created in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901.

The literature prize will not be handed out this year after the awarding body was hit by a sexual misconduct scandal.

Why did they win?

Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo, working separately, showed how certain proteins act as “brakes” on the immune system’s T-cells, limiting their ability to attack cancer cells, and that suppressing those proteins could transform the body’s ability to fight cancer.

Why is the work important?

Until their breakthroughs — Dr. Honjo’s at Kyoto University, and Dr. Allison’s at the University of California at Berkeley and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York — cancer treatment consisted of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Their work led to a fourth class of treatment, harnessing the immune system.

Who won the 2017 Physiology or Medicine Nobel?

Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young were recognised for discoveries about the molecular mechanisms controlling the body’s circadian rhythm. Understanding misalignments between a person’s lifestyle and the rhythm dictated by their inner timekeeper has implications for health and disease risks.

When will the other Nobels be announced?

■ The Nobel Prize in Physics will be announced on Tuesday in Sweden. Read about last year’s winners, Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish.

■ The Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be announced on Wednesday in Sweden. Read about last year’s winners, Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson.

■ The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday in Norway. Read about last year’s winner, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

■ The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science will be announced next Monday in Sweden. Read about last year’s winner, Richard H. Thaler.