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eat me protein

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Cancer patients the world over take heart. We¬† may be on the cusp of a seminal breakthrough in cancer research and treatment. A few days ago, researchers from Stanford University reported that they have discovered a protein in abundance, on the surface of cancer cells. What is remarkable about this protein (calreticulin) is that it signals the immune system to engulf them and destroy them (hence the name “eat me” cells). But cancer cells also have a second molecule, CD47, which signals “don’t eat me”. Macrophages do not destroy cancer cells because CD47 counteracts Calreticulin.

In normal cells, Calreticulin is expressed when the cell is damaged, thus allowing the macrophages  to clean them up.

The same researchers found in a previous study that CD47 antibodies were very effective in curing leukemia and other cancers induced in mice, without affecting normal cells (ie., no side effects)!!

The thinking here is that by blocking the CD47, the eat me signal is stronger in the cancer cells, allowing the macrophages to clean up.

Key developments in cell biology related to this research can be found in this article

Apopstosis:eating sensibly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by asterix98

December 27, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Posted in cancer, Oncology

Emperor of all maladies

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Book Review : The Emperor of all Maladies

To use a contemporary metaphor, Cancer is the Voldemort of diseases, what with it vast array of Horcruxes and Death Eaters. Mukherjee’s narrative is lyrical, the language exquisite (here is a sample sentence from the book “..The gibbet and the graveyard – the convenience stores for the medieval anatomist-… “.) What an image! It is also a tale of innovation, creativity, serendipity, passion, and motivation on the part of a few key individuals driven to make a difference, where breaking the rules to advance the status quo is the norm.

Most of you know I lost my wife to this dreaded disease. I had been looking for such a book since her diagnosis and could’nt find one. I wish we had it then. Nevertheless, as Mukherjee traces the history, it is heartening to note that the fight to conquer this disease has made slow but steady progress. I hope, as many of you out there, as possible, can read this tour de force of science writing.

Much awareness raising is required for the more lethal forms (pancreatic cancer and metastatic melanoma, to name a couple). I hope after reading this book you are spurred into action to support the Harry Potter oncologists of the world in their fight to rid the earth of this dreadful malady.

This book is a keeper.Buy it, gift it, spread the word.

Written by asterix98

December 8, 2010 at 7:20 am

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