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T cell biology pioneer Allison wins first AACR honor for cancer immunology
Date:4/10/2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. The scientist whose discoveries led to the first drug approved for metastatic melanoma by "treating the immune system, not the cancer," also is the first to receive the AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology.

James Allison, Ph.D., professor and chair of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Immunology, was honored today at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 in Washington, D.C.

The American Association for Cancer Research and the Cancer Research Institute launched the award to recognize the increasing importance of immunology in cancer treatment and to honor Old, who died last year at 78 after a path-breaking career in immunology research and leadership.

"I'm delighted and honored to be given this award named for Lloyd Old, who is widely considered to be the father of cancer immunotherapy. I was fortunate in knowing Dr. Old as a mentor, but also as a close friend," Allison said.

"This new award by AACR and CRI recognizes individuals, but it's also gratifying recognition of the growing prominence of immune therapy and of our progress towards fulfilling Dr. Old's goal of unleashing the immune system against cancer," Allison said.

Antibody blocks inhibitor of T cell response

Allison's basic science discoveries about the immune system led to his identification and development of ipilimumab, known commercially as Yervoy, a monoclonal antibody that blocks a molecule on the surface of T cells that acts as a brake on the immune system.

About 23 percent of patients with late stage metastatic melanoma who took ipilimumab in clinical trials have lived for five years or longer, unheard of in stage 4 melanoma patients. The drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May 2011.

"Our goal is to accelerate the transition of new drugs and rational combinations based on mechanistic insight into the clinic," Allison said. "These approaches h
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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