Researchers at Stanford University have discovered how the immune system can be restored by using CD47-blocking antibody to trick-back invaders and allow the macrophages engulf and destroy cancer cells from all tumor types. CD47 is a marker that blocks the immune system from destroying them as they circulate. Cancers take advantage of this flag to trick the immune system into ignoring them. To determine whether blocking CD47 was beneficial, the scientists exposed tumor cells to macrophages, a type of immune cell, and anti-CD47 molecules in petri dishes. Without the drug, the macrophages ignored the cancerous cells, but when the anti-CD47 was present the macrophages engulfed and destroyed cancer cells from all tumor types.
One of the studies on mice with breast cancer tumors suggests that “anti-CD47 eliminated all signs of the cancer cells“, and the animals remained cancer-free 4 months after the treatment stopped.
It appears that this new strategy has much wider applications than it was originally anticipated. Although the new study is promising, more research is needed to see whether the results hold true in humans, says Tyler Jacks, Cancer researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.