Splashed across the front pages of the media lingering in the midst of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case is the ground-breaking revelation that scientists have isolated an antibody that will likely lead to the development of a drug that could cure seven common forms of cancer.
In the study at Stanford University, researchers successfully shrank cancerous tumors of the brain, breast, ovary, prostate, liver, colon and bladder that had been transplanted from humans into mice. The antibody blocks the CD47 protein that inhibits the body’s immune system from attacking healthy cells. Often, cancerous cells hide inside these cells and are successfully blocked by this protector protein, allowing the cancer to grow and spread unscathed by the body’s immune system. Further analysis is necessary, but studies suggest that CD47 may be common to all cancers and result in a treatment drug for all forms of cancer.
The human body is still a great mystery and although this is an exciting step in the right direction, it is important to note that the treatment did not work on every mouse and every form of cancer tested, every time. For example, six mice were injected with breast cancer, in five, the tumor shrank and showed no signs of recurrence after four months, but in one mouse no effect was witnessed.
This is very buzz worthy information, but it is still in the early stages of development. Researchers still need to determine if radiation is necessary in advance to shrink the tumors before the antibody may truly be effective. Additionally, human subjects will need to be tested to ensure that the antibody does not behave differently in a different environment.
The team at Stanford has received a $20 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to begin testing the safety and efficacy in humans. The lead researcher, Irving Weismann told Science Now, “We have enough data already that I can say I’m confident that this will move to phase I human trials.”