Sunday, March 31, 2013

Protein-blocking antibody allows immune system to destroy most cancers

Due to their research, Irving Weissman and his team have been awarded a $20 million grant to further their research into human trials after finding that a protein body antibody allows the natural immune system to fight and kill most cancer cells. A protein, CD47, had been previously found in blood cancer cells, while also being found in all human cells. Since the immune system recognizes this protein, it acted as a shield for cancer cells to be protected from the immune system. Weissman historically found that when blocking this protein in the cancer cells, it allowed for the immune system to attack and kill these specific cancer cells and fight the disease.

Now, Weissman has found this identical protein not only on blood cancer cells, but every human tumor they have checked thus far. To determine whether or not CD47 had a role in the death of other cancer cells, Weissman exposed cancer cells in a petri dish to an immune cell and anti-CD47; in the presence of anti-CD47, the cancer cell was killed by the macrophage. This process was then repeated when various cancers were transplanted into mice; each experiment showed promising shrinking or death of cancer cells in the mice. Weissman is confident in the data they have collected and is certain his research will move to phase I human trials.

Once again, new research is exposed regarding the destruction of cancer cells; although sounding promising, the ultimate question is whether or not it can be reproduced in humans. Hopefully, with the grant money they were issued, this process can be completed as efficiently and quickly as possible, with new cancer treatments always being desired throughout the scientific and medical community. It will be extremely interesting to follow this research into the trial of humans, or if a citizen is able to get a hold of this treatment for "research" purposes; it is always possible that the next mile-stone in modern medicine is right around the corner.

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