Just like the other cancer treatments, this also has side effects such as overactive immune response leading to autoimmune reactions, which means the body's own cells are treated as foreign bodies and the immune system fights against the cells. I saw the ravages of those kinds of treatments.
Allison started his career at MD Anderson in 1977, arriving as one of the first employees of a new basic science research center located in Smithville, Texas.
His 1994 experiment was spectacularly successful, with mice with cancer cured by treatment with the antibodies that inhibit the brake and unlock antitumor T-cell activity.
Dr. Otis W. Brawley, a close friend of Allison's, said the Nobel committee usually waits about ten years to make sure a scientific discovery "sticks as being really important".
Releasing the potential of immune cells to attack cancers joins other treatments including surgery, radiation and drugs. Thus, Drs. Allison and Honjo have inspired efforts to combine different strategies to release the brakes on the immune system with the aim of eliminating tumor cells even more efficiently.
The MD Anderson immunologist was featured in a 2015 report by KPRC2.
Professor Allison works at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.
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Allison, 70, of the University of Texas Austin, studied a known protein and developed the concept into a new treatment approach. Some of his leadership positions include serving as a co-leader of the Stand Up To Cancer-Cancer Research Institute Cancer Immunology Dream Team and as a director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI).
While in theory it should work for most forms of cancer, it's most effective on those with the highest numbers of mutations such as melanomas, lung cancer and smoking, he added.
The duo will share the Nobel prize sum of nine million Swedish kronor (about Dollars 1.01 million). She and Allison are longtime collaborators in immunotherapy research. In particular, drugs targeting PD-1 blockade have proved a big commercial hit, offering new options for patients with melanoma, lung and bladder cancers.
Jedd Wolchok, chief of the melanoma and immunotherapeutics service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in NY, said "the science they pioneered" had saved "an untold number of lives".
Allison said he has been professionally friendly with Honjo since the 1980s. Later in the morning, the Nobel committee called Allison with the news.
Allison - who received his bachelor's degree in 1969 and his doctorate in 1973 at UT Austin - shares the award with Tasuku Honjo, a professor at Kyoto University.
A ceremony at which the prizes are bestowed will be held December 10.