Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The first of this year's Nobel Prizes, in medicine, was awarded Monday to cancer researchers James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo.
The joint award to Allison and Honjo was given "for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation," the Nobel committee said.
Allison's research was conducted at the University of California, Berkeley. He now works at Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Honju works at Japan's Kyoto University.
Researchers working under the direction of Allison and Honjo discovered methods of removing constraints on "T cells" that fight invaders by modulating immune responses. Allison studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system and found the means to release its potential, while Honjo similarly found a protein operating as a brake but with a different mechanism of action, the Nobel committee in Stockholm said on Monday.
The methods are responsible for the development of cancer immunotherapy, which is included with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy as approaches to fighting cancer.
The announcement in Helsinki was the first of several prizes to be given out this week. Awards in physics, chemistry, peace and economics will follow.
A ceremony at which the prizes are bestowed will be held Dec. 10.