Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Jim Allison. Photo courtesy of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Jim Allison, today's winner of the first Nobel prize for cancer therapy along with Kyoto University's Tasuku Honjo, says he expects immunotherapy to be the "fourth pillar" in cancer treatments, along with radiation, chemotherapy and other gene-targeting treatments.

Why it matters: Immunotherapy treatments for cancer had a slow start, but persistent research has led to breakthroughs in the technology. Allison is responsible for developing the checkpoint blockade approach, which locates and blocks a key protein (CTLA-4) so that the immune system can attack cancer cells.

The backdrop: Allison, whose work at UC-Berkeley led to the discovery of CTLA-4, says early research had failures because they "started with insufficient knowledge."

  • Allison said he discovered the protein because he "wanted to know how T-cells work," and eventually tested the technique on a patient with advanced melanoma. That patient has since remained cancer-free more than 14 years.
  • His discovery led to the first drug that binds the CTLA-4 protein, called ipilimumab (or Yervoy), approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011. Yervoy's use has been extended to target other cancers, including some types of lung, kidney, bladder and Hodgkin lymphoma.

Meanwhile, the other prize recipient, Honjo, discovered a protein in 1992 that also inhibits the immune system, called PD-1. In 2015, the FDA approved anti-PD-1 therapy for malignant melanoma, and later extended the approval to non-small-cell lung, gastric and several other cancers. Two PD-1 therapies include pembrolizumab (or Keytruda) and nivolumab (or Opdivo).

  • Allison says that in many cases, the combination of both CTLA-4 and PD-1 offers a more potent punch. The success rate went from about 20% for CTLA-4 by itself to 60% when both were taken together.

What they're saying:

“By stimulating the ability of our immune system to attack tumor cells, this year’s Nobel Prize laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.”
— Nobel Assembly of Karolinska Institute in Stockholm announced
"Jim’s work illuminates the fundamental mechanisms governing how cancers evade the immune system and has led to a new class of drugs that are producing Lazarus results for patients suffering from cancer. His science and passion has saved and will continue to save many lives."
— Ronald DePinho, professor and past president, MD Anderson, tells Axios

What's next: Allison says research in the fundamentals of how the immune system works, how immunotherapy can be combined and how to mitigate side effects is still needed.

What to watch:

  • The success rate varies among cancers — for instance, melanoma has 60% curative rate from immunotherapy, which is higher than many others.
  • One theory, he says, is that immunotherapy appears to work best with cancers with a high level of mutations (like melanoma, which can have up to 3,000 mutations/cell) to be targeted by T-cells.
  • While he says scientists tend to avoid the term "cancer cure," Allison believes further research will show immunotherapy used in combination with the three other pillars "will be curative to a lot of patients" and adds that "there is hope for cancer patients."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!