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Former UC immunologist wins Nobel Prize

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James P. Allison, immunologist and former director of University of California at Berkeley’s Cancer Research Laboratory, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Allison shared the award with Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University in Japan, for “their discovery of cancer therapy inhibition of negative immune regulation,” according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences committee, which awards the annual prizes.

Allison, who now works at the University of Texas, researched during his 20 years at Berkeley how the immune system fights infection, according to a statement by UC Berkeley.

Allison said in a statement:

“I don’t know if I could have accomplished this work anywhere else than Berkeley.”

His research led to an entirely new strategy for treating tumors and other malignant cancers by targeting the immune system instead of the cancer cells. The new method of treatment is credited with benefiting thousands of people with advanced melanoma and the elimination of cancer in many patients for more than a decade.

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