The Nobel jury said that “for more than 100 years, scientists attempted to engage the immune system in the fight against cancer”.
“Until the seminal discoveries by the two laureates, progress into clinical development was modest.”
Allison and Honjo have previously shared the 2014 Tang Prize, touted as Asia’s version of the Nobels, for their research.
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.
“However, advanced cancer remains immensely difficult to treat, and novel therapeutic strategies are desperately needed,” the Nobel Assembly said.