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

ave proven effective in the treatment of melanoma and prostate cancer, and there is no reason that immunotherapy, since it targets the immune system and not the cancer cell, shouldn't be effective against a broad range of cancer types."

The drug has been used in more than 4,000 patients with a variety of cancers, including clinical trials for prostate, renal, lung and ovarian cancers.

The immune system routinely recognizes and destroys abnormal cells, but cancer cells manage to evade detection and attack. Old and colleagues believed that the immune system is ideally suited to wipe out cancer if those problems can be overcome, an unpopular view for decades.

Allison's discoveries in T cell biology built the foundation for him to identify and advance ipilimumab. T cells are lymphocytes, a white blood cell with receptors to recognize and bind to antigens, allowing the T cells to launch a customized attack on viruses, bacteria, abnormal cells and proteins.

Allison discovered:

  • The T cell antigen receptor used by T cells to bind to and recognize antigens.
  • T cells require a second signal to launch an immune response after they've bound to an antigen. B7 molecules on presenting cells must engage a surface molecule called CD28 on the T cell.
  • An immune-inhibiting molecule called CTLA-4 inhibits activated T cells to protect normal tissue from attack. CTLA-4 apparently also protects cancer cells from attack.

Ipilimumab is an antibody that blocks CTLA-4's docking station on T cells.

Allison was chair of the immunology program and director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He started at MD Anderson on Nov. 1. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, as well as a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The AACR-CRI Lloyd
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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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