Allison, chair of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's Immunology department and executive director of the Moon Shots Program immunotherapy platform, received the
"Scientists should be celebrated as heroes, and we're honored to be part of today's celebration of the newest winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the Fundamental Physics Prize," said
"I'm honored and exhilarated to receive this generous award established by the founders of the Breakthrough Prize in
Among the uses for the prize funds that Allison is considering is a program for high school students and college undergraduates to foster their interest in biomedicine.
Growing up in
"Real hope for cancer patients around the world"
Allison's research on the biology of T cells, immune system attack cells primed to identify and destroy infections and the body's abnormal cells, has led to several discoveries:
• Identification of the receptor on T cells used to recognize and bind to antigens - abnormalities that mark defective cells or viruses and bacteria for attack.
• The discovery that T cells require a second molecular signal from co-stimulatory molecules to launch a response after they've bound to an antigen.
• A discovery involving a receptor on T cells called CTLA-4 that acts as a built-in off switch to stop T cells from attacking. These immune checkpoints usually protect normal tissues from autoimmunity and aren't effective on abnormal cells. Cancer cells, however, activate CTLA-4.
Allison then developed an antibody that led to development of ipilimumab to block CTLA-4. In clinical trials against stage 4 melanoma, the drug extinguished the disease in 24 percent of patients for up to 12 years and counting, unprecedented results against metastatic melanoma. The drug, now called Yervoy, was approved to treat melanoma by the
Checkpoint blockade at work in many cancers
This work stimulated discovery of additional immune checkpoints and development of experimental drugs to block them. Clinical trials of ipilimumab and other agents are under way at MD Anderson and elsewhere are demonstrating effectiveness against a variety of other cancers.
"Checkpoint blockade is not tumor-specific but rather treats the immune system, so it's effectiveness against cancer will go beyond melanoma," Allison said.
Since arriving at MD
Allison earned his bachelor's degree in microbiology and then a doctorate in biological sciences from UT-
Allison is a member of the
The award is provided through the Breakthrough Prize in
The ceremony will be televised by the Science Channel, one of the Discovery networks at
Keywords for this news article include: Biomedical Engineering, Biomedicine, Oncology, Melanomas, Immunology, Bioengineering, Hemic and Immune Systems, Clinical Trials and Studies,
Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2013, NewsRx LLC
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