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.
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)