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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stanford's Big News- Anti CD47

Recently there has been quite a bit of press over Stanford's research on an anti-CD 47 drug because of a recent publication and potential of upcoming clinical trials.   Now it seems that the FDA has approved this- human clinical trials.   Because I am primarily interested in pediatric brain tumors, I rarely get excited about this type of news as in the past it often has taken years to go from first in man studies to our kids.   However, this might not be the case with this new agent.   It seems that DIPG has been on the minds of the developers of this anti- CD47 antibody already.  Stanford already lists this as a topic in their pediatric brain tumor research program!

So what is so special about this anti-CD47 antibody that it has been called the "Holy Grail" of cancer research?

Apparently cells have these proteins on them called CD47 which tell a person's body "don't eat me".    Those things that are foreign don't have these proteins so the idea is that the immune system will get destroy them.   Cancer cells have alot of these CD47 proteins on them which allows them to continue to survive by tricking the immune system.

A decade ago a Stanford researcher, Irving Weissman, found that leukemia cells had more CD47 on them than normal healthy cells.  Later the researchers found that every type of cancer they tested had high levels of CD47 than healthy cells.  They developed an anti-CD 47 antibody and tested it on tumor cells in petri dishes.  Without the antibody the macrophages (those cells which eating up stuff that shouldn't be there) ignored the cancer cells.   However,  when the samples had the anit-CD47 antibody included the  macrophages destroyed all types of cancer cells.  They then tested the agent on mice with similar effects.

There has been some concern that since all cells have CD47 that there could be some significant side effects in normal tissue.   Although there has been some transient decreases in blood counts other effects were not seen in mice.    The hope is that this will hold true in people as well.

The Stanford team has recieved a four-year $20 million grant for California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to translate these findings from mice to humans.  Since Stanford seems to have the funding, the approval and the interest in DIPG this might be research to watch as sometime in the future this agent might become a clinical trial option for kids with DIPG.

Names to Know:   It seems the Stanford researchers involved in this project and interested in pediatric DIPG included Michelle Monje, Hans Vogel, Paul Fisher, Albert Wong, Irving Weissman and Phillip Beachy as well as David Rowitch (UCSF).

Antidote: On Cancer and CD47

CD47 Antibody treatment shrinks or eliminate human cancer tumors in mice (Stanford Video)

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