Collaborating Authors

Nobel winner Tasuku Honjo sees bigger role for immunotherapy in battling cancer

The Japan Times

STOCKHOLM – Japanese scientist Tasuku Honjo, who jointly won this year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his research on the immune system that contributed to cancer treatments, said Thursday that he believes most cancers will become treatable with immunotherapy by 2050. The 76-year-old professor and deputy director-general at the Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study spoke at a news conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, joined by American scientist James Allison, who shared the prize. The discovery by Honjo and Allison -- on methods to inhibit negative immune regulation -- established a new principle for cancer treatment that stimulates the inherent ability of the human immune system to unleash attacks on tumor cells, according to the Nobel Assembly. Honjo said it may become possible to contain the growth of most cancer cells through such treatment, even if cancer cannot be completely eliminated, as he discussed the effectiveness of combination therapy using drugs in the development of which he and Allison were involved. The Kyoto native and his team discovered PD-1, a protein on immune cells that operates as a brake on the immune system.

Nobel medicine laureate Tasuku Honjo visits longtime barber ahead of ceremony

The Japan Times

KYOTO – Nobel Prize-winning Japanese scientist Tasuku Honjo stopped in over the weekend at a Kyoto barbershop he has been visiting for over half a century as he prepares for his trip to Stockholm next week for the award ceremony. On Sunday, the 76-year-old, who won this year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine along with American James Allison for their studies on cancer therapy, was seen at the shop in Kyoto chatting with his 81-year-old longtime barber. "Hey, your hands are shaky. Haven't you ever thought of retiring?" the professor emeritus at Kyoto University asked barber Koichi Ueda, who works with his son at the Biriken barber shop near the university. "He was the kind of student who did not hesitate to speak up about his opinions," Ueda said about his impression of Honjo back when he first came to the shop Their discussions while Honjo was in the barber's chair ranged from the student uprisings of the 1970s to baseball.

Flat level of research funding triggers alarm among Japan's top scientists

The Japan Times

STOCKHOLM – Japanese scientist Tasuku Honjo's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine has highlighted an issue that has troubled many scientists in Japan: the country's stagnant research funding, which trails that of its rivals. Shortly after receiving the news in October that he was being awarded the prestigious prize, Honjo discussed his idea to set up a fund to support young researchers. Earlier this week, as he left Japan for Stockholm to attend the Nobel Prize awards ceremony, the 76-year-old Kyoto University professor stressed that support for young researchers continues to diminish. Honjo is alarmed at the current situation, in which the nation's research funding at universities has remained roughly flat -- a fact that stands in stark contrast with many other major nations, where such funding has grown significantly. Honjo is not alone in his thinking.

50 years later, U.S. Vietnam War deserter aided by Japanese group returns on speaking tour

The Japan Times

A former U.S. seaman who deserted during the Vietnam War with the help of a Japanese pacifist group and fled to Sweden is visiting Japan for the first time in 50 years to deliver speeches nationwide. During a recent lecture at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Craig Anderson expressed concerns over what he called Japan's "remilitarization" as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushes to revise the war-renouncing clause of the Constitution to establish the legality of the Self-Defense Forces. In Kyoto, Anderson, 70, also told the audience of around 50 to take actions in accordance with their consciences to secure peace. Anderson deserted from the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid with three young seamen when it docked at Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in October 1967. They eventually smuggled themselves out of Japan to reach Stockholm via Moscow with help from the Japanese Peace for Vietnam!

Nobel laureate Ohsumi urges youth to ask fundamental questions, however 'naive'

The Japan Times

STOCKHOLM – Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi, who won this year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his study on cell recycling, encouraged young people Wednesday to pursue fundamental questions, however "naive" they may appear. The 71-year-old honorary professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology made the remarks at a news conference at the Karolinska Institute, home of the Nobel Assembly, ahead of the prize award ceremony. He also said he is nervous about the series of events that await him in the days ahead, culminating in the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony on Saturday, but added he is looking forward to them. Ohsumi was awarded the Nobel prize for elucidating "autophagy," an intracellular process that degrades and recycles proteins. His discoveries are believed to have opened up the possibility of new treatments for illnesses including cancer and Parkinson's disease.