Scientists have developed a drug they claim could cure cancer, after discovering a single antibody that has been found to shrink seven common types of the disease.
A treatment that targets a protein responsible for blocking the immune system from protecting the body against cancer tumours, has been successfully trialled on laboratory mice.
The drug could slow the growth of cancer tumours and, if taken early enough, even offer a cure, the researchers claim.
The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, reveal the drug successfully blocked the harmful CD47 protein and shrunk human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver and prostate tumours which had been implanted into the mice.
The ‘miracle drug’ works by targeting and blocking the CD47 protein - a biomarker that stops the immune system doing its job by telling it to kill healthy blood cells instead of protecting them. The cancer tumour uses this protein to protect it from being destroyed.
Although this technique was discovered a decade ago by biologist Irving Weissman from Stanford University School of Medicine and is already used to treat leukemia and lymphoma, this is the first time research has suggested that it could be just as effective with other types of cancer tumours.
Talking to Science, Weissman, who participated in the study, said: “What we’ve shown is that CD47 isn’t just important on leukemia and lymphomas. It’s on every single human primary tumour that we tested.
However, although the researchers have been given multi-million dollar funding to extend their research from mice to humans, they added that it is unlikely the drugs will available anytime soon.
"We have enough data already, that I can say I'm confident that this will move to phase I human trials,” added Weissman.
Responding to the findings, Dr Kat Arney from Cancer Research UK, told HuffPost Lifestyle: "While the headlines may promise a miracle cure, this ‘wonder drug’ is still at its earliest stages and has only been shown to work in the lab and in mice.
“But it’s certainly an interesting and potentially exciting approach, and we look forward to seeing the results of further work to find out whether anti-CD47 can actually treat cancer in patients safely and effectively.”
Dr Richard Francis from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, added: “It’s exciting that further research is planned into this promising new avenue for cancer treatment. We look forward to finding out whether this drug will be safe and effective for breast cancer patients. However, research so far has only been carried out in mice and it will be several years before we know if humans can benefit.
"We’d encourage anyone with questions about their breast cancer treatment to speak to their doctor.”