New cancer drug may help stall cancer

Apr 09, 2012

There may be a drug that can help slow cancer.

Families that have had to claim life insurance policies and bury a loved one after a battle with cancer know how hard it can be, but there may be some positive news on the horizon. A new study shows that an experimental antibody may be able to stop or stall seven kinds of cancer.

Stanford's Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine said the antibody works by blocking a "protein signal" called CD47 found in cancer cells. The treatment appears to be safe, as a single antibody uses a signal to keep cancer at bay.

"Blocking this 'don't-eat-me' signal inhibits the growth in mice of nearly every human cancer we tested, with minimal toxicity," said Dr. Irving Weissman, professor of pathology who directs Stanford's Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. "This shows conclusively that this protein, CD47, is a legitimate and promising target for human cancer therapy."

Weissman said if the tumor is really aggressive, the antibody also blocks metastasis. He said it's clear that if cancer wants to survive in the body, it has to find a way to evade cells of the innate immune system. While people with a family history of cancer should still consider life insurance to be safe, this is positive news that there may eventually be a new drug available to help loved ones.

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