Researchers have successfully stopped the spread of cancer, and even shrunk existing tumors, in animal trials for a promising new drug.
Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases of our time, and most of the currently available treatment options are unreliable and unpleasant. But a new treatment that blocks the protein CD47 has shown dramatic results in shrinking tumors and preventing new tumor growth.
Biologist Irving Weissman of the Stanford University School of Medicine has been working on this research for more than a decade, since discovering that cancer cells had higher levels of CD47 than non-cancer cells. By using an anti-body to block the production of CD47 in all cells, he found, the immune system could recognize the cancer cells as intruders and fight them off.
In testing on mice, the results have been dramatic: After the antibody was injected, the mice’s tumors stopped spreading, and even began to shrink. In five mice that had been injected with breast cancer tumors, the tumors had disappeared completely within four months of treatment.
“We showed that even after the tumor has taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumor or slow its growth and prevent metastasis,” said Weissman.
Weissman is hoping to move his project to human trials soon, which should help the researchers evaluate whether the treatment is really the breakthrough cancer treatment it appears to be. If the human trials provide equally optimistic results, there’s every chance that this could be the cure that we’ve been waiting for.