After a recent publication in the National Academy of Science (2012), trials of a new antibody commenced on mice with seven different types of cancer tumours. The antibody, which operates by blocking the CD47 protein’s signal, killed or shrunk all tumours it was used on. The CD47 protein releases a signal that tricks the body’s immune system into not destroying harmful cells, and by blocking that signal the immune system can be instructed to attack cancer cells. Whilst this protein is found on healthy blood cells, it has been demonstrated to be found in much larger concentrations in cancer cells.
Following the successful trials on mice, the team (California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, led by Weissman) recently got a 4 year, $20 million grant to begin human trials for this new drug. By blocking the “don’t eat me” signal, the team hopes this can be a legitimate cure with minimal toxicity.
This is, of course, an exciting step forward but it does beg the question – what’s wrong with our priorities? $20 million over 4 years to potentially cure cancer for all of humanity? That’s only $5 million a year. At the same time, the US military is spending over $700 billion a year destroying humanity.
I’ve always considered humankind to be an inherently destructive force. We bring ruin to everything around us, even each other. Just a little something to think about.