Antibody could eliminate cancer, researchers say

Cancer, thou hast a new enemy, and he goes by the name of Dr. Irv Weissman.

Weissman, a pathology and developmental biology professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, is hoping a single antibody he’s developed will destroy all cancers in humans — just as it’s already done in mice.

The antibody, created by Weissman and his team, works by blocking cancer’s natural defenses.

Its defense, a protein called CD47 lives on the surface of all cancer cells and tricks the immune system by telling the body not to eat it.

This allows the cancer to grow and multiply.

However, researchers discovered they can override the “do not eat me” signals with the introduction of their anti-CD47 antibody.

Weissman told the NY Post:

“We showed that even after the tumor has taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumor or slow its growth and prevent [the cancer from spreading].”

So far, the antibody has minimal side effects and has successfully destroyed all cancers it’s come across, including breast, ovarian, brain and prostate cancer.

Now, with a $20 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, researchers are taking their discovery from mice to humans.

As early as next February, Weissman said his team will begin testing on a group of 10-100 patients for the first phase of their clinical human trial.

Thus far, experiments have been done by embedding human cancers into laboratory mice. But since animal versions of the anti-CD47 can not be used in humans, researchers will have to create a “humanized” version of the antibody.

Once that happens, production of the antibody must be scaled up in a sterile facility, tested and approved by regulatory officials.

In short, the whole process will take a long time, said Stanford officials.

Still, researchers are excited over the promising indication that a single antibody could treat all types of cancer.

Weissman told the Great Falls Tribune:

“We have high hopes.”

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