The Miracle Drug That Kills All Cancers

It sounds like science fiction, but researchers have discovered a single drug that they think can shrink, or even completely cure, all human tumours. But how does a drug like that work, and when will it be available?

An article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science explains that a new treatment — based on an antibody that blocks a "do not eat" signal normally displayed on tumour cells — helps persuade the immune system to destroy the cancer cells. To date, it's been shown to shrink or cure human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver and prostate tumours that have been transplanted into mice.

The treatment targets and blocks a protein called CD47, a marker that tells the immune system to not kill healthy blood cells. But cancers use the same protein to avoid being destroyed by the body, too — so by strategically blocking the protein, it's possible to use one antibody to kill all types of cancer tumours.

Over the past few years the technique has been applied to treating lymphomas and leukaemia, but this latest research suggests it could be used on all types of cancers. Irving Weissman, one of the researchers, explains to Science:

"What we've shown is that CD47 isn't just important on leukemias and lymphomas. It's on every single human primary tumour that we tested... We showed that even after the tumour has taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumour or slow its growth and prevent metastasis."

Even though some normal, healthy cells are attacked as a result of blocking CD47, the researchers found this was short-lived and negligible compared to the effects on the tumour.

Sadly, it will be some time before such a drug makes it to clinical practice. But with the researchers having just received a $US20 million grant to move the findings from mouse studies to human safety tests, you can expect progress to be as quick as possible. [PNAS via Science]

Image: Trif/Shutterstock

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    This is one of those articles that seems too good to be true, like when that guy 'flew' last week.
    Hopefully this one turns out better because cancer has always annoyed me.

    Seems so simple when you explain it like that.

    Looks like a more targetted version of Chemo. While a step forward until this can be altered to ignore all but the cancer cells we're still missing that silver bullet.

    im sorry to say it....but this drug wont make it to market, unless the government wants to get into the actual production process. Drug companies make money in treatments not cures. At best, it will be part of a long term treatment that wont be available as a quick fix.

      Hey, show a little faith. Government can tell drug companies what to do, that's what they're for.

        Faith in government, I have faith in greed. Government are supposed to be the leaders and they lead where the money takes them more than ever before.

      Kanthan, this is a treatment, not a cure...try reading the article before spouting your conspiracy theories.

      Your argument is undermined by the existence of vaccines. By your logic, no drug company would make them, only treatments for the diseases.

      How is your foil hat going? All I can say is that it the drug companies do this, then the researchers will find a way to leak it for free. It will be pirated.

      I'll just bring this to everyone's attention.

      IT SAVES LIVES. Cancer has no if not ANY (easy) cure. You might get cancer one day and when you do, news like this will give you a glimmer of hope. Stop being pessimistic.

    When they say that it eats healthy cells a bit as well....all I can think of is the lady at the start of I am Legend sayings "Yes, we've cured cancer"

    finally ... hope

    And that will be the last we hear of that. Big Pharma will buy the formula and shelve it soon.

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