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Allison, Honjo Win Nobel Prize for Research on Immune Checkpoints

Jason Harris
Published: Monday, Oct 01, 2018

James Allison, PhD

James Allison, PhD

Immunotherapy pioneers James P. Allison, PhD, and Tasuku Honjo, MD, PhD, have won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research that eventually led to the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors to treat cancer. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet announced the award in a statement Monday.

“Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges,” the committee said. “By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumor cells, this year’s Nobel Laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.”

Allison, chair of Immunology and executive director of the Immunotherapy Platform at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, is best known for his work in T-cell response mechanisms and his discovery that blocking the signaling of the immune checkpoint protein CTLA-4 improved antitumor immune responses. His research led to the development of ipilimumab (Yervoy), the first FDA-approved immune checkpoint inhibitor. The agency approved ipilimumab the treatment of advanced melanoma in 2011.
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