Dr. Allison on the Development of Ipilimumab for Cancer Treatment

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James P. Allison, PhD, discusses the development of ipilimumab.

James P. Allison, PhD, chair, Immunology, executive director, Immunotherapy Platform, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and a recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, discusses the development of ipilimumab (Yervoy).

When developing ipilimumab, a monoclonal antibody, bias against immunotherapy presented the biggest challenge at the time, according to Allison. Allison focused his research on mechanisms and the regulation of T-cell responses and tried to apply this work to the treatment of patients with cancer. During his research, he found that blocking checkpoints could unleash the immune system’s T cells.

Allison anticipated doubts about this strategy, and he completed research in mouse models with various strains and tumors to ensure ipilimumab would work as monotherapy, radical chemotherapy, radiation, or vaccine.

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