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In a recent study of a protein called CD47, a new treatment in mice studies triggered the immune system to destroy cancer cells. CD47 activity was partially discovered a decade ago by Irving Weissman at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California. He discovered that leukemia cells produce higher levels of a protein called CD47 than do healthy cells. In the past few years, Weissman’s lab showed that blocking CD47 with an antibody cured some cases of lymphomas and leukemias in mice by stimulating the immune system to recognize the cancer cells as invaders. Now, he and colleagues have shown that the CD47-blocking antibody may have a far wider impact than just blood cancers.

“What we’ve shown is that CD47 isn’t just important on leukemias and lymphomas,” says Weissman. “It’s on every single human primary tumor that we tested.” Moreover, Weissman’s lab found that cancer cells always had higher levels of CD47 than did healthy cells. How much CD47 a tumor made could predict the survival odds of a patient.

A very promising cure for cancer?   Read more>>