After successful trials in mice, the cancer drug that so far has shrunk or cured all types of tumors it has been tested against will now move to human clinical trials, thanks to a $20 million grant.
A study published March 2012 discusses researchers' find that the one-for-all antibody drug successfully blocks a specific protein, CD47, from tricking the body's immune system into not destroying harmful cells. Though this protein is present on the surface of healthy blood cells, the team from Stanford University's School of Medicine determined that CD47 levels were significantly higher in all cancer cells.
The single antibody treatment works by blocking the protein's signal, thus instructing the body's immune system to attack the cancer cells.
"What we've shown is that CD47 isn't just important on leukemias and lymphomas," Stanford Professor of Pathology and lead study author Dr. Irving Weissman told Science NOW, referring to his previous research that inspired the most recent study. "It's on every single human primary tumor that we tested."
After publishing their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the team tested the drug treatment on mice with seven different types of human cancer tumors -- breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver and prostate. By either killing or shrinking each tumor, the innovative antibody drug prevented the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.
"Blocking this ‘don’t-eat-me’ signal inhibits the growth in mice of nearly every human cancer we tested, with minimal toxicity," Weissman said in a statement released by Stanford in 2012. "This shows conclusively that this protein, CD47, is a legitimate and promising target for human cancer therapy."
Funded by a four-year, $20 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Weissman and his team will now prepare for the first phase of human clinical trials.