MD Anderson launches James P. Allison Institute to develop new treatments for immunotherapy

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HOUSTON – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced Thursday the launch of James P. Allison Institute, a hub within MD Anderson, aimed at advancing immunotherapy treatments.

The institute was named after Dr. James P. Allison, who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his fundamental discoveries in T cell biology and his invention of ipilimumab.

Immunotherapy does not target the tumor directly like traditional pillars of cancer care such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and targeted therapies, but instead works to unleash the immune system. The institute’s goal is to develop treatment approaches that will integrate these pillars and prime immune cells for an anti-tumor response that can eliminate cancer permanently.

Allison said if they’re successful at creating immunotherapy that can benefit all kinds of cancers, it’s because they’re bringing together the most brilliant minds in cancer research.

“Immunotherapy has transformed cancer care over the past decade but, unfortunately, not all patients benefit equally. Our goal is to change that,” said Allison, regental chair of Immunology and director of the Allison Institute. “Our vision is to lead the world in immunotherapy research by empowering interdisciplinary scientific excellence and by accelerating discoveries into novel and synergetic therapies that enable cures.”

Together with Allison, the institute will be led by renowned experts in immunotherapy and cancer research. Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology, will serve as scientific director of the Allison Institute, and Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of Cancer Biology, will serve as director of operations.

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