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Researchers find treatment that kills every kind of cancer tumor

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by Black Panther, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

    May 30, 2007
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    Lovely news!

    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.

    "What we've shown is that CD47 isn't just important on leukemias and lymphomas," says Weissman. "It's on every single human primary tumor that we tested." Moreover, Weissman's lab found that cancer cells always had higher levels of CD47 than did healthy cells. How much CD47 a tumor made could predict the survival odds of a patient.

    To determine whether blocking CD47 was beneficial, the scientists exposed tumor cells to macrophages, a type of immune cell, and anti-CD47 molecules in petri dishes. Without the drug, the macrophages ignored the cancerous cells. But when the anti-CD47 was present, the macrophages engulfed and destroyed cancer cells from all tumor types.

    Next, the team transplanted human tumors into the feet of mice, where tumors can be easily monitored. When they treated the rodents with anti-CD47, the tumors shrank and did not spread to the rest of the body. In mice given human bladder cancer tumors, for example, 10 of 10 untreated mice had cancer that spread to their lymph nodes. Only one of 10 mice treated with anti-CD47 had a lymph node with signs of cancer. Moreover, the implanted tumor often got smaller after treatment—colon cancers transplanted into the mice shrank to less than one-third of their original size, on average. And in five mice with breast cancer tumors, anti-CD47 eliminated all signs of the cancer cells, and the animals remained cancer-free 4 months after the treatment stopped.

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    "We showed that even after the tumor has taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumor or slow its growth and prevent metastasis," says Weissman.

    Although macrophages also attacked blood cells expressing CD47 when mice were given the antibody, the researchers found that the decrease in blood cells was short-lived; the animals turned up production of new blood cells to replace those they lost from the treatment, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Cancer researcher Tyler Jacks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge says that although the new study is promising, more research is needed to see whether the results hold true in humans. "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."

    Another important question, Jacks says, is how CD47 antibodies would complement existing treatments. "In what ways might they work together and in what ways might they be antagonistic?" Using anti-CD47 in addition to chemotherapy, for example, could be counterproductive if the stress from chemotherapy causes normal cells to produce more CD47 than usual.

    Weissman's team has received a $20 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to move the findings from mouse studies to human safety tests. "We have enough data already," says Weissman, "that I can say I'm confident that this will move to phase I human trials."

  2. hat

    hat Enthusiast

    Nov 20, 2006
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    Stanford huh? I wonder... F@H? Maybe not, as that deals more with protein folding. World Community Grid maybe? WCG is also affiliated with Stanford.
  3. Steevo


    Nov 4, 2005
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    I have been reading up on Berberine, one of few chemicals of a group normally highly toxic and it has some interesting potential.
    10 Year Member at TPU 10 Million points folded for TPU
  4. natr0n


    Jan 29, 2012
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    Boca Raton, Florida
    There are many natural cures for cancers.
    _ALB_R3D X says thanks.
  5. mauriek


    Jan 20, 2007
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    Mataram-NTB, Indonesia
    i believe that the problem is how to make the cure repeatable for other patient with the same success or some people will hunt sharks fin only for a chance to cure just because some people said it could cured their cancer.

    great news, still a long time from mice testing until it hit the market, if it's really the cure, i just hope it will be available for everybody at a fair price and keep it out of reach from some greedy pharmaceuticals company.
    Crunching for Team TPU
  6. Aquinus

    Aquinus Resident Wat-man

    Jan 28, 2012
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    Concord, NH
    Many cancers are curable if you catch it early enough. It's a matter of finding it before it's too late.
  7. trickson

    trickson OH, I have such a headache

    Dec 5, 2004
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    Planet Earth.
    I doubt this will be available for another 10-20 or even 50 years from now. There is just too much money in the way things are now. Cure some thing? In the medical community? And give up BILLIONS in drug treatment? NEVER! Good news, Yes. But will this ever be available to the masses? NO!
    natr0n says thanks.
    10 Year Member at TPU
  8. RejZoR


    Oct 2, 2004
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    It's not just that, they made trials only on mice and even that with transplanted tumors which might not be the same as "naturally" occurring ones... Then when they deal with that they have to move on to primates testing, bunch of approvals from various organizations, even more further trials etc. So even if you take money completely out of the equation, it will take a long time before they actually make even a prototype of a cure specifically designed for humans. Maybe individuals that don't have anything to lose will try to give it a shot in terms of possibly saving themselves and also speeding up human trials which are otherwise not ethically possible.

    But still, any good news about cancer curing is a great news. Pretty much everyone that i know had cancer at one point so it's realyl about time we finally do something about it.
    10 Year Member at TPU

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