Using CD47's protection to deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to tumor cells

October 9, 2012 by Marcia Goodrich
Ching-An Peng with students in his lab. Peng is studying new ways to get chemotherapy drugs to the site of a tumor.

(Medical Xpress)—For most of their natural lives, red blood cells hide safely under the radar of the body's immune system, thanks to a cloak of "don't eat me" protein called CD47. Ching-An Peng of Michigan Technological University wants to co-opt that clever trick to fight cancer.

Voracious called macrophages normally protect organisms by engulfing cell debris and pathogens. However, if they encounter something covered with CD47, such as a red blood cell, they tend to leave it alone. "I thought, 'Why not use CD47 to help deliver drugs?" said Peng. "We could camouflage them and avoid the immune response."

Nanoparticles hold great promise for delivering anti- directly to the site of a tumor. Getting them there, however, has been problematic, since macrophages stand at the ready to scoop the particles out of the blood stream before they can get to the the tumor and drop their cargo. Peng theorizes that if drug-bearing nanoparticles were coated with CD47, they could make it to the tumor unmolested.

CD47 also brings another weapon to the war against cancer. It binds to a special kind of protein found on tumors called an integrin. This integrin is involved with the network of that form around the tumor, blood vessels that provide the cancer with nutrients to fuel its out-of-control growth.

Thus, properly designed CD47-coated nanoparticles might deliver a one-two punch to cancer by 1) delivering and 2) choking off its food supply.

Research by Peng and his colleagues is in its early stages. They are using E. coli bacteria to mass produce CD47 in the lab using recombinant DNA technology. The next step will be to attach it to nanoparticles and expose them to macrophages, to see if the macrophages eat them up or—hopefully—ignore them.

Explore further: Research: Single antibody shrinks variety of human tumors transplanted into mice

Related Stories

Research: Single antibody shrinks variety of human tumors transplanted into mice

March 26, 2012
Human tumors transplanted into laboratory mice disappeared or shrank when scientists treated the animals with a single antibody, according to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine. The antibody works ...

Recommended for you

Cancer-death button gets jammed by gut bacterium

July 27, 2017
Researchers at Michigan Medicine and in China showed that a type of bacterium is associated with the recurrence of colorectal cancer and poor outcomes. They found that Fusobacterium nucleatum in the gut can stop chemotherapy ...

Researchers release first draft of a genome-wide cancer 'dependency map'

July 27, 2017
In one of the largest efforts to build a comprehensive catalog of genetic vulnerabilities in cancer, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified more than 760 genes ...

Long-sought mechanism of metastasis is discovered in pancreatic cancer

July 27, 2017
Cells, just like people, have memories. They retain molecular markers that at the beginning of their existence helped guide their development. Cells that become cancerous may be making use of these early memories to power ...

Blocking the back-door that cancer cells use to escape death by radiotherapy

July 27, 2017
A natural healing mechanism of the body may be reducing the efficiency of radiotherapy in breast cancer patients, according to a new study.

Manmade peptides reduce breast cancer's spread

July 27, 2017
Manmade peptides that directly disrupt the inner workings of a gene known to support cancer's spread significantly reduce metastasis in a mouse model of breast cancer, scientists say.

Glowing tumor technology helps surgeons remove hidden cancer cells

July 27, 2017
Surgeons were able to identify and remove a greater number of cancerous nodules from lung cancer patients when combining intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) - through the use of a contrast agent that makes tumor cells ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.