The world's leading organization of oncologists has honored Jim Allison, Ph.D., for his pioneering research that led to a new way to treat cancer by unleashing an immune system attack rather than targeting tumors directly. Dr. Allison, Chair of Immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, received the Science of Oncology Award during the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago on Sunday, May 31. In its announcement of the award, ASCO noted Allison's "research on T-cell response mechanisms and cancer's evasion of attack by the immune system led to the clinical development of ipilimumab to block CTLA-4 and its approval as a melanoma treatment." Ipilimumab, known commercially as Yervoy, thwarts CTLA-4, a protein receptor on T cells that acts as a brake on immune response. Long-term follow-up of patients with late-stage melanoma showed that 22 percent of those treated with Yervoy survived at least four years, unprecedented results for the disease. Importantly, those who survived three years have gone on to live up to 10 years and beyond. Other immune checkpoints have been identified and targeted, and checkpoint blockade has become one of the most promising areas of cancer treatment. Because the approach treats the immune system rather than tumors directly, it is spreading through clinical trials to treat other cancer types. "I'm grateful for this recognition from ASCO and optimistic that immune checkpoint blockade, in rational combination with other therapies, may prove to be curative for many patients across different types of cancer," Dr. Allison said. His award lecture was titled “Immune Checkpoint Blockade in Cancer Therapy: New Insights, Opportunities, and Prospects for a Cure.” Dr.
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