Researchers at Sanford are on track to begin human trials of a new drug that could become a potent weapon against cancer, according to a report from the New York Post.
The Post initially reported on the groundbreaking study two months ago. The study was conducted by Dr. Irv Weissman, who developed an antibody that breaks down a cancer’s defense mechanisms in the body, according to the report.
“A protein called CD47 tells the body not to “eat” the cancer, but the antibody developed by Dr Weissman blocks CD47 and frees up immune cells called macrophages — which can then engulf the deadly cells.”
The new research shows macrophages act as intelligence gatherers for the body, pointing out cancerous cells to cancer-fighting “killer T” cells. The cells then “learn” to hunt down and attack the cancer, according to the researchers.
“It was completely unexpected that CD8+ T cells would be mobilized when macrophages engulfed the cancer cells in the presence of CD47-blocking antibodies,” said MD/PhD student Diane Tseng, the lead author of the study. Following engulfment of cancer cells, macrophages activate T cells to mobilize their own immune attack against cancer, she said.
The new research provides hope that the therapy will cause the immune system to wage a two-pronged attack on cancer — through both macrophages and T cells.
Read more: med.stanford.edu