Dec 4, 2013
One Drug to Shrink All Tumors?
Posted on Mar 29, 2013
A single drug has proven capable of shrinking or curing human breast, ovarian, colon, bladder, brain, liver and prostate tumors that were transplanted into mice by overriding a chemical that normally blocks the immune system from destroying cancer cells.
Stanford University biologist Irving Weissman first noticed the protective CD47 protein, which exists within cancerous as well as healthy cells, a decade ago. In the last few years, his lab was able to inhibit the production of that protein in cancer cells, thus allowing the body to recognize them as invaders.
Initially the discovery related only to leukemia. Now Weissman and his colleagues have shown it could impact many more types of cancer.
Cancer researcher Tyler Jacks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology warns that study on humans is needed before the drug can be declared effective. “The microenvironment of a real tumor is quite a bit more complicated than the microenvironment of a transplanted tumor,” he notes, “and it’s possible that a real tumor has additional immune suppressing effects.” It is also not known whether the drug’s effect would be nullified through interaction with existing treatments.
Weissman’s team has received $20 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to begin testing on humans. “We have enough data already,” he said, “that I can say I’m confident that this will move to phase I human trials.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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