Dr. Allison Discusses the Future of Immunotherapy in Cancer Care

James P. Allison, PhD
Published: Tuesday, Oct 02, 2018



James P. Allison, PhD, chair of Immunology and executive director of the Immunotherapy Platform at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and a recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, discusses the future of immunotherapy in the treatment of patients with cancer.

Allison says that when he began his work in immunology, the mechanism of T cells was largely unknown. He says that the current understanding is still only scratching the surface—it is a dynamic process. If immunotherapy is going to be used in the treatment of patients with cancer, the mechanisms of T cells need to be understood. This is particularly pertinent to the conversation about combination immunotherapy. Immunotherapy in combination with genomic or targeted kinase inhibitors can be powerful, but Allison warns that the effect on the immune system is not yet known.

Immunotherapy has become the fourth pillar of cancer care, joining surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. These 3 modalities have been traditionally separated into siloes, Allison explains, but immunotherapy is unique—it can work well with all 3 modalities. The goal now is figuring out a universal way of combining these modalities and hope for synergy, he concludes.


James P. Allison, PhD, chair of Immunology and executive director of the Immunotherapy Platform at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and a recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, discusses the future of immunotherapy in the treatment of patients with cancer.

Allison says that when he began his work in immunology, the mechanism of T cells was largely unknown. He says that the current understanding is still only scratching the surface—it is a dynamic process. If immunotherapy is going to be used in the treatment of patients with cancer, the mechanisms of T cells need to be understood. This is particularly pertinent to the conversation about combination immunotherapy. Immunotherapy in combination with genomic or targeted kinase inhibitors can be powerful, but Allison warns that the effect on the immune system is not yet known.

Immunotherapy has become the fourth pillar of cancer care, joining surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. These 3 modalities have been traditionally separated into siloes, Allison explains, but immunotherapy is unique—it can work well with all 3 modalities. The goal now is figuring out a universal way of combining these modalities and hope for synergy, he concludes.



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