Stanford University scientists have discovered a single drug that has killed or shrunk every kind of cancer tumor it has been used against — a new anti-cancer weapon that some have described as a kind of medical Holy Grail.
The drug blocks a protein produced in large amounts by cancer cells — called CD47 — that keeps the body’s immune system from fighting tumors. By shutting down the CD47 production, the new antibody drug effectively leaves cancer cells vulnerable to the body’s own natural defense mechanisms.
Tests of the drug found that it destroyed several kinds of human cancer cells transplanted into mice — including breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver, and prostate tumors — by prompting the rodents’ immune systems to kill the cancer cells.
“We showed that even after the tumor had taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumor or slow its growth and prevent metastasis,” said biologist Irving Weissman of the Stanford University School of Medicine, in an interview with Science Magazine.
The research, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to clinical trials in cancer patients as early as next year, according to a Stanford School of Medicine statement posted on its website.
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