By Jake Greenberg / October 1, 2018

American Jim Allison Wins Nobel Prize in Medicine for Cancer Research

The Houston-based researcher has helped bring immunotherapy into the world of cancer treatment.

James Allison, currently at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, holds a press conference in New York October 1, 2018 after winning the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine along with Kyoto Universitys Tasuku Honjo. Allison was awarded the prize for his cancer research in immunotherapy. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
James Allison, currently at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, holds a press conference in New York October 1, 2018 after winning the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine along with Kyoto Universitys Tasuku Honjo. Allison was awarded the prize for his cancer research in immunotherapy. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

American Jim Allison has brought one of the world’s highest honors home. 

Houston-based scientist Jim Allison will be one of two 2018 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, the governing body for the prestigious award announced Monday.

The award recognizes Allison’s pioneering research into immunotherapy, a major new tactic in fighting cancer.

Allison discovered CTLA-4, a protein that works like a brake with the immune system while cancer cells attack. Allison then developed a “checkpoint inhibitor,” or a drug that releases that brake, and enables the patient’s immune system to identify and confront tumors. Immunotherapy is quickly becoming one of the foremost weapons in cancer treatment, alongside radiation and chemotherapy.

“A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontier of knowledge. I didn’t set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells, these incredible cells that travel our bodies and work to protect us,” Allison said in a statement released by the MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he is chairman of immunology.

Tasuku Honjo, the other recipient of a 2018 Nobel for Medicine, also researched immune system brakes.

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