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Three for Immunotherapy

Three researchers whose work has spurred the field of immunotherapy are to receive the 2018 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, according to the Albany Times-Union.

The Albany Medical Center announced that this year's recipients are the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's James Allison, the University of Pennsylvania's Carl June, and Steven Rosenberg from the National Cancer Institute.

In the 1980s, Rosenberg hypothesized that stimulating T cells could rouse an immune response and showed that high doses of interleukin-2 could treat melanoma and kidney cancer. Allison, meanwhile, found that T cells' protein receptor CTLA-4 acts as immune checkpoint, which led to the development of checkpoint blockade therapies for cancer, like Keytruda. And June showed that engineering chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) onto patients' T cells could also treat cancer, and is the basis of new drugs like Kymriah, as the medical center notes.

"Because of the work of these three researchers, the nascent field of immunotherapy has already had spectacular success, leading to effective mitigation and often cures for thousands of cancer and HIV patients whose diseases were not treatable by other methods," Vincent Verdile, the chair of the Albany Prize National Selection Committee, said in a statement.

The $500,000 award is to be presented in late September, the Times-Union adds.