Cancer breakthrough

I remember when they first discovered this. Maybe this really is the magic bullet to cure cancer:

A single drug can shrink or cure human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver, and prostate tumors that have been transplanted into mice, researchers have found. The treatment, an antibody that blocks a “do not eat” signal normally displayed on tumor cells, coaxes the immune system to destroy the cancer cells.

A decade ago, biologist Irving Weissman of the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, discovered that leukemia cells produce higher levels of a protein called CD47 than do healthy cells. CD47, he and other scientists found, is also displayed on healthy blood cells; it’s a marker that blocks the immune system from destroying them as they circulate. Cancers take advantage of this flag to trick the immune system into ignoring them. In the past few years, Weissman’s lab showed that blocking CD47 with an antibody cured some cases of lymphomas and leukemias in mice by stimulating the immune system to recognize the cancer cells as invaders. Now, he and colleagues have shown that the CD47-blocking antibody may have a far wider impact than just blood cancers.

4 Responses to Cancer breakthrough

  1. Imhotep March 28, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    This possible “cure” is just in time given the number of cancer cases the Fukushima meltdown will probably cause. Isn’t it curious how everything is interrelated?

  2. lless March 28, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    There must be misgivings somewhere because they haven’t tried it on some deparately ill luminary like Jobs yet.

  3. MadScot March 28, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Am I too cynical in believing BigPharma will buy it and hide it as there is no money to be made from a cure. :/

  4. quixote March 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Well, there’s a lot of short term money in a cure, so someone in Big Pharma will go for it.

    The bigger problem is that the “do not eat” signal is also on healthy, essential cells. That’s why they have the signal. The body needs them to function and can’t afford to have the immune system chowing down on them. So the reason this cure hasn’t been applied to any terminally ill celebrities is because it wouldn’t work. Yet, anyway. They have to find a way to activate the signal only on cancer cells.

    Tat may or may not be difficult. Cancer cells have a number of unusual signals on their surface, so if they can couple one of those with the “go ahead and eat me” signal, then we really will have a cure. Unfortunately, different cancers have different characteristic signals, so it ceases to be a one-size-fits-all cure.

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