Who is Nobel Medicine Prize victor James P Allison?

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"We patented it", Allison told The Scientist earlier this year.

The results were astounding - tumors disappeared. "We submitted to Nature, and it was published; we got a lot of notoriety for that". "A comment like that makes me happier than any prize", he said.

Allison went into cancer research because he always wanted to be the first person to figure something out.

"I never dreamed my research would take the direction it has", he said.

The American and Japanese researchers discovered methods of removing the brakes on cells that fight invaders, paving the way for cancer immunotherapy, which has joined surgery, radiation and chemotherapy as a major weapon in the battle against cancer.

James Allison in 1993, when he was conducting research at UC Berkeley on a promising immunotherapy now reaching fruition. But he made a switch that changed his life and helped show the value of rallying the immune system to fight cancer. "He didn't suffer fools easily".

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Cancerous tumors are notoriously skilled at dodging our immune systems. He realised the potential of releasing the brake and unleashing our immune cells to attack tumours, the official Twitter page of the Nobel Prize said.

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". "His research has led to life-saving treatments for people who otherwise would have little hope". This holds that the immune system has many checkpoints created to prevent it from attacking the body's own cells, which can lead to autoimmune disease.

He primarily focused on a protein that operates somewhat like a brake in a motor vehicle.

"The temporary activation of the immune system though "checkpoint blockade" provides a window of opportunity during which the immune system is mobilized to attack and eliminate tumors", Vance said. It was a breakthrough drug that turned an invariably fatal cancer that killed patients within months into one that could be cured, albeit in only a minority (about 20 percent) of patients. The therapy was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2011 and approved by the FDA as ipilimumab (trade name Yervoy), which is now used to treat skin cancers that have metastasized or that can not be removed surgically. His work led to development of the first immune checkpoint inhibitor drug. "When I'm thanked by patients who recover, I truly feel the significance of our research", he commented. "There's no hospital, no patients". Lanier says he often spent Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with Allison in the mid-1990s, and remembers Allison talking about the initial experiments that showed him CTLA-4 could fight cancer in mice.

T-cells are a type of white blood cell that play a central role in the body's natural immunity to disease.

In parallel, Honjo was working on PD-1. And more recently, scientists have found that combining the two targets can be even more effective in cancer treatment, particularly in combating melanoma.

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