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CD47 is a protein flag normally expressed on the surfaces of certain cells, such as circulating blood stem cells, to protect them from an organism’s immune system. About 10 years ago, Irving L. Weissman (Stanford University School of Medicine, CA) and colleagues showed that certain types of cancer, especially leukemia and lymphoma cells, also expressed CD47, helping them to evade destruction by immune cells. In the past few years, various research groups have successfully used antibodies against CD47 to cure some cases of leukemia and lymphoma in mice. Now, a team led by Weissman reports that blocking CD47 is also effective in treating a host of human solid cancers transplanted into mice: breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver and prostate tumors shrank substantially or even disappeared completely when treated with antibodies against CD47 (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA doi:10.1073/pnas.1121623109; published online 26 March 2012).
Lab Anim. (NY) 41, 111 (2012).
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