We are researching an antibody immune therapy, Anti-CD47 to stimulate the immune system to recognize and naturally destroy cancer cells. Stanford researchers have discovered that cancer cells overproduce a surface protein, CD47 that signals to immune cells (macrophages) ‘don’t eat me.’ When Anti-CD47 is used in laboratory experiments, the result is a robust immune response specifically against the tumors: macrophages literally eat the tumor cells while leaving normal cells alone.
At the same time, we are investigating new treatments against medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children. We have clear evidence that a blood pressure medication Prazosin kills medulloblastoma stem cells and that Prazosin can also boost the effect of Anti-CD47 to destroy these cells. Cancer stem cells are the ‘mother’ cells that create new tumor cells. Conventional cancer treatments, which target rapidly dividing cancer cells, have difficulty killing cancer stem cells which can lay dormant and so survive chemotherapy and radiation.
Since both Anti-CD47 and Prazosin are effective at destroying medulloblastoma stem cells, our goal is to use both therapies in combination to achieve complete eradication of the cancer stem cells, which will ensure that a tumor does not recur and treatments are more safe/less toxic.