It's the first day of Nobel Prize week, and we already have two winners.
Honjo, of Kyoto University, discovered a new protein, the ligand PD-1, which also acted as a brake on immune cells.
The scientists' work led to treatments targeting proteins made by some immune system cells that act as a "brake" on the body's natural defenses eradicating cancer cells.
Allison's friend, Dr. Ron DePinho, tweeted a video of Joe Biden calling him with the news.
"I had lung cancer", the member was quoted as saying, "and thought I was playing my last round of golf".
"I'm honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition", Allison said in a statement. "A comment like that makes me happier than any prize", he said.
Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year. "The significance of immunotherapy as a form of cancer treatment will be felt for generations to come". In a statement Monday, he urged more support for basic science research. The pharmaceutical industry is vigorously pursuing immunotherapy, and hundreds of trials are now underway based on CTLA-4, PD-1 and other immune approaches. "It's a great, emotional privilege to meet cancer patients who've been successfully treated with immune checkpoint blockade. They are living proof of the power of basic science", he added.
"In some patients, this therapy is remarkably effective", Jeremy Berg, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, told The Associated Press.
Commenting on Monday's award, Dan Davis, an immunologist at Britain's University of Manchester, said "this game-changing cancer therapy" has "sparked a revolution in thinking about the many other ways in which the immune system can be harnessed or unleashed to fight cancer and other illnesses".
No Nobel Literature Prize is being given this year because the Swedish Academy, the body that choses the literature victor, has been in turmoil after sex abuse and financial scandal allegations.
"For more than 100 years, scientists attempted to engage the immune system in the fight against cancer".
Other cancer treatments have previously been awarded Nobel prizes, including methods for hormone treatment for prostate cancer in 1966, chemotherapy in 1988 and bone marrow transplantation for leukaemia in 1990. No literature prize is being given this year.