[C]ancer is an ancient enemy that–until now–has appeared invincible. Today’s announcement of a new ‘wonder drug’ to combat all cancer sounds wonderful and is music to the ears of cancer sufferers around the world. However, is the news as good as it initially sounds?
In a nutshell, the new ‘drug’ blocks the expression of a transmembrane protein called CD47. Transmembrane simply means that the protein crosses back and forth through the cell membrane; in other words, part of the protein sticks out of the membrane, and part of it is inside the cell. The part that sticks out plays a very important role in helping the body’s defenses to recognize the cell as part of ‘self’. The new ‘drug’ would block the expression of this protein and remove/modify the marker that tells the immune system that “hey, I’m one of the good guys!’. While this would great if the cell is cancerous, it’s not so great if the cell is, say a red blood cell. CD47 expression on the membrane of red blood cells keeps macrophages from gobbling them up. In fact, some researchers believe the absence of a CD47 marker on the cell membrane is one reason why our bodies attack ‘self’ (a condition called ‘autoimmune disorder’–something that is becoming far to common).
So, while I’m delighted to hear that researchers believe they’ve found a panacea for all cancer, I’m concerned that this ‘cure’ to lead to an avalanche of autoimmune diseases. The initial human cohort is stated as 10-100 patients, so we’ll see how these patients react. The human body is a complex and amazing world. We are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, and it is dangerous when scientists seek to reprogram the millions of reactions that God has set into place.
For more on the new ‘wonder drug’, see New wonder drug matches and kills all kinds of cancer — human testing starts 2014 – NYPOST.com.
For more on CD47 Research:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23462967 (This one is very interesting, as it discusses how coating nanoparticles with a RBC membrane, which includes CD47, tricks the body into thinking the nanoparticle is part of ‘self’)