3 March 2022 – In the November 1992 issue of The EMBO Journal, Tasuku Honjo and colleagues reported the discovery of a new gene, which they named programmed death 1 (PD-1). Thirty years later, monoclonal antibodies against PD-1 were being used in the clinic to treat cancer patients, and in 2018 Tasuku Honjo shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with James Allison. “The paper has been transformational. I don’t think that they would ever have predicted that looking into genes that were differentially expressed that they would get such an important molecule that would be transformative for cancer immunotherapy,” said EMBO Journal Chief Editor Facundo Batista. In this episode of the EMBO podcast, Tasuku Honjo spoke about his journey from medical school to basic research, the importance of academic journals, and the many surprising turns in the PD-1 story. We also talked to Pierre Golstein, whose group cloned CTLA-4.
From cell death to cancer immunotherapy
An interview with Tasuku Honjo