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Medicine Science

Drug Turns Immune System Against All Tumor Types 330 330

sciencehabit writes, quoting an article in Science: "A single drug can shrink or cure human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver, and prostate tumors that have been transplanted into mice, researchers have found. The treatment, an antibody that blocks a 'do not eat' signal normally displayed on tumor cells, coaxes the immune system to destroy the cancer cells." The abstract and full paper are freely available. It seems fairly promising: "In mice given human bladder cancer tumors, for example, 10 of 10 untreated mice had cancer that spread to their lymph nodes. Only one of 10 mice treated with anti-CD47 had a lymph node with signs of cancer. Moreover, the implanted tumor often got smaller after treatment — colon cancers transplanted into the mice shrank to less than one-third of their original size, on average. And in five mice with breast cancer tumors, anti-CD47 eliminated all signs of the cancer cells, and the animals remained cancer-free 4 months after the treatment stopped."
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Drug Turns Immune System Against All Tumor Types

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  • But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:19AM (#39481987)

    What about non-tumor cells, which also display this cell determinant?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:23AM (#39482003)

    That's called an auto-immune disease and that would be nothing new under the sun,

  • Mouse != Human (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RenHoek (101570) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:24AM (#39482009) Homepage

    Very promising, but before we uncork the champagne, it's important to keep in mind that mice and humans are different enough that most cures don't translate 1:1 to humans.

  • by rally2xs (1093023) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:27AM (#39482017)

    This "The doctors are evil conspirators" crap really, really gets old...

  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:30AM (#39482029) Homepage

    I'm a little over 30 now. Me getting cancer is relatively probable at some point in my life. The big question is will they cure it first?

    Oh, and if cancer doesn't get me, will I have robot attendants at home when I'm old and fragile, or will they just upgrade my body? Medicine is progressing at an amazing rate, really...

  • by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:30AM (#39482033)

    Or perhaps they don't want to commit to a cure for human cancers when they've just found a prelminary positive result in an animal model?

    That couldn't be it, possibly?

    No, must be a conspiracy. *facepalm*

  • Optimisim (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:32AM (#39482043)

    I'm not sure why some people are so sure "big pharma" are disinterested in curing many diseases/conditions. After all, if you can sell a cure for cancer, you just landed in a bucket of money.

    Beyond that, the need for a cure is overwhelming. Even corporate greed will often take a backseat because this issue affects us all. If it was a condition associated with a specific population, or with the poor etc then I'm sure the interest would be much less humanitarian.

    Every day we get closer to a cure, every piece of research, even if it's only effective on mice takes us when step closer. I for one, appreciate every effort made in this regard.

    I do not have cancer and no one close to me has it either. Perhaps just a matter of time.

  • Re:Won't happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by azalin (67640) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:49AM (#39482103)

    It won't fly, as antibodies are cheap and not complicated to do. Seriously, do you really believe Big Pharma is going to let it happen ? A treatment simple like this would jeopardize their business, risking billions of dollar. They'll do something to stop this treatment in its tracks. They always do. Sound paranoid ? I wish. It's more like realistic. Their purpose is not really to cure cancer, but getting a maximum profit from it.

    I call bullshit. First of all you don't risk anything by finding such a "simple cure". There are a lot of people and a lot of them will get cancer at one time so there is a very large customer base and no shortage thereof in the long term. For the length of the patent you could sell this stuff at almost any price. Do you really think one company would keep an invention locked up (and risk loosing it to someone else) that would bring them truckloads of money?
    Not to mention all the free PR you'd get.
    Also I don't really believe in conspiracies that rely on large groups of people to keep quiet, make no mistakes and act against their own private interests.

  • Re:Mouse != Human (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aryden (1872756) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:59AM (#39482131)
    Yes but I believe his point is that, a mouse is not the same as a human and therefore we cannot yet tell what detrimental effects the drug may have on humans that did not occur in the mice.
  • Re:Won't happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by black3d (1648913) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:00AM (#39482137)

    They're not stopping the treatment. They're going to make megabucks off it.

    >> Conflict of interest statement: S.J., M.P.C., R. Majeti, and I.L.W. filed U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 12/321,215 entitled “Methods for Manipulating Phagocytosis Mediated by CD47."

    They've already applied for the patent for treating cancers in this way. If granted, 17 years of income for a cancer cure which they control the market on would make them a trillion dollars. Each. Although, they could just be patenting it to prevent anyone else patenting it, although naturally whomever funded the study is going to want a sizeable return on their investment and it's fair enough they get it.

  • Re:But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:04AM (#39482157)

    Sure, but in the cases where it works you eventually come away neither dead nor wishing you were dead. So your options are

    A. Take the drugs, wish you were dead, then get better, then feel fine

    B. Don't take the drugs. Be actually dead.

    I used to stagger home through the woods after each round of chemo, not quite wishing I was dead, but certainly feeling very sorry for myself, and then in a week's time I'd go do the same thing again. But it worked, so instead of being dead and buried back when Slashdot members with six digit user IDs didn't exist yet I'm still here and feeling fine. Slight elevated risk of solid tumours in old age, and no chance I'll win any records for free diving with what the radiotherapy did to my lungs after we finished chemo, but I'll probably outlive those of my peers who are smoking.

  • Re:But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:18AM (#39482209) Homepage Journal

    I am glad to hear that you came through okay.

  • by rrohbeck (944847) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:23AM (#39482227)

    Remember that over 60% of cancers are environmentally caused (eating, drinking, smoking, sun, exposure to chemicals) and live accordingly.

  • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ratbag (65209) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:24AM (#39482229)

    Your post was possibly the post important message an AC has ever shared with this website. Thanks.

  • Re:Optimisim (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RivenAleem (1590553) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:24AM (#39482231)

    And once you cure one person, nobody else ever gets cancer again, ever.

  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:31AM (#39482247) Homepage

    Remember that over 60% of cancers are environmentally caused (eating, drinking, smoking, sun, exposure to chemicals) and live accordingly.

    I do. Meaning I expose myself to a reasonable degree, and accept the risk. Much more fun to live that way IMHO. (Never smoked and hardly ever drink though.)

  • by sFurbo (1361249) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @05:01AM (#39482345)

    The big question is will they cure it [cancer] first?

    Cancer isn't one disease, it is a rather diverse family of diseases. Today, medicine is able to treat some of them to the level where they are cured for most of the patients. Some of them, it can give patients years of extra life. For some of them, there isn't much we can do a this point. The advance to this level have been slow, but relatively steady. This will continue. We are probably never going to cure cancer, in the sense that all cancers are survivable by 95% of the patients, but we are slowly going to get better and better, so that more and more cancers fall in that category, and for most of the rest, the average number of years the patients survive will rise.

  • Re:Won't happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @05:22AM (#39482405)

    Expressed in other terms:
    How may drug company execs will let their children, their spouses, or their friends die of cancer for better shareholder returns? Not all of them. It only takes one whistle blower, or potential whistle blower, to louse up plans like this.

    One drug company supposedly had a drug for an inherited, fatal condition, but was going to can development of it, as there probably wasn't enough profit. A board member, who had a friend who's child had that condition basically said, "if you can this drug, I'm going to the press with it." Fearing the backlash, the company introduced the drug and now boasts about how good they are to bring drugs for smaller markets to market.

  • Re:Mouse != Human (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe&jwsmythe,com> on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @05:43AM (#39482473) Homepage Journal

        It's a start. But you are right. People (scientists) are pushed to publish with even preliminary results. I'd prefer that stuff like this stay firmly in the scientific process, and not put out the press release until they have done enough testing to be reasonably sure of the result.

        10 mice is a start. A curiosity. Something to look more at. It's getting people's hopes up today, when we won't see it available to the general population for many years. Well, that's assuming that it does work as expected. They see a 90% success rate, with a sample set of 10. How does that translate out to a sample set of 1,000? How about humans of different ethnic origins, blood types, and other factors?

        I hope it does work as advertised. No one suffering from terminal cancer now, should hold their breath that it may work in their lifetime.

  • Re:Mouse != Human (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:17AM (#39482879)

    Too bad people with a terminal cancer do not have the right to test such a treatment. Because the alternative isn't better anyway.

  • Re:But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neokushan (932374) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:57AM (#39483459)

    Agreed. I come to slashdot for the discussions, not the articles which I tend to find on other sites before /. posts them. The discussions are brilliant here, even amongst the trolls and idiots.

  • Re:Optimisim (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:04AM (#39483507) Journal

    Let's see, we have two choices:

    • Sell an expensive treatment, patient dies a few months later.
    • Sell a cure, patient lives for 20-30 more years, suffers from a large number of minor ailments and a few major ones, keeps earning money for 20-30 years and spending some proportion of it on drugs, becomes a long-term revenue stream.

    Which one will the evil profit-driven capitalists pick? In fact, there's a third option:

    • Competitor sells a cure, we don't make any money from selling the treatment.
  • Re:Won't happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:31AM (#39483705)

    Not to mention all the free PR you'd get.

    Exactly. Imagine you ran the company that found the cure to cancer, the magic bullet that stopped all cancer dead in its tracks. Even if you didn't make a dime off of the cure itself, your new company slogan would be "We Cured Cancer!" Every commercial from then on out would say "From the people who cured cancer comes a radical new treatment for XYZ." Heck, even any regulations the government tried to saddle them with could be spun as "The government takes action against the cancer curers! OMG HORROR!" Any pharmaceutical company would kill (or save lives as the case may be) for this PR.

  • Re:Mouse != Human (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:32AM (#39483717)

    Publishing in scientific journals is part of the scientific process. Communication and sharing your results is critical to science, particularly when the next steps (human trials) will involve way more resources than your little wet lab probably has. You also want everyone you can get examining your work before you go giving experimental drugs to people.

    The problem seems to be overeager laymen. I guess we could close all the scientific journals to non-scientists and only announce final, ready to market developments. Personally I prefer the open approach and educating the public, but if you don't, please feel free not to read any scientific publications and avoid any news articles about them.

  • Re:Mouse != Human (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:34AM (#39483733)
    Do you not watch TV? There are constantly commercials for drugs where the potential side effects are much worse than the condition they are treating. Sometimes including death! And yet these companies still sell it. As long as the public is made aware that there is a fairly small chance the drug will not work for them why would anyone sue? Of course there are the people that will sue over anything but it wouldn't be 100% of the failed cases. If they sued simply because it didn't work, no worsening of the situation; really bad side effects; etc. What judge would find in their favor when the company said outright this cure doesn't work for everyone.
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @02:07PM (#39487443) Homepage Journal

    It is not debatable that it is the rule.

    Actually, that's debatable, too. Putting the period inside the quotation marks every time is strictly an American English distortion of the English language.

    In British English, the period goes inside or outside depending on whether it is part of what is being quoted. So about 18% of native English speakers and an even larger percentage of non-native English speakers would tell you that your rule is completely wrong.

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