publication date: Oct. 12, 2018

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Ronald DePinho’s guest editorial in the Oct. 5, 2018, issue of The Cancer Letter congratulating Jim Allison for winning a share of the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology contained the following one sentence paragraph: “It was the first Nobel ever awarded for the treatment of cancer.”

While the development of immune checkpoint inhibitors is a major advance that deserves recognition at the highest level, it is not the first Nobel Prize awarded for discoveries related to cancer treatment. Thirty years ago, Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings were awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for discovery of several important medications, including mercaptopurine, a drug that remains a critical component of curative treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

And eighty five years before that, Marie Curie received the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for her discovery of radium and radioactivity, a foundation for radiation treatment of cancer to this day. One could also point to others (e.g., Thomas, Greider, Blackburn) whose Nobel Prizes recognized discoveries that directly impacted cancer treatment.

As we celebrate today’s advances, we should not forget yesterday’s discoveries.

William E. Evans

Chair in Pharmacogenomics,

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences,

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Mary V. Relling

Chair, Pharmaceutical Department,

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Ronald DePinho responds:

Dear Drs. Evans and Relling,

Thank you for bringing to my attention the statement in my editorial concerning the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology as ‘first Nobel ever awarded for the treatment of cancer.’ This statement derives from a press conference comment where Dr. … Continue reading Letter to the Editor 2018

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