Barriers to Treatment

Developing CD47 Antibody Therapy for Children's Cancer

  • Kathleen Sakamoto, MD, PhD
  • Shelagh Galligan Professor in the School of Medicine
    Stanford University

A research team at Stanford University led by Drs. Kathleen Sakamoto and Irv Weissman has received a $1.37 million grant from CureSearch titled "Development of CD47 Monoclonal Antibody Therapy for Pediatric Tumors."

In a healthy person, when the body makes abnormal cells or cells become old, the body's scavenger cells, called macrophages, eliminate them in a process defined as programmed cell removal. When a person has cancer, the abnormal cells are not eliminated by the macrophages. Researchers under the leadership of Dr. Irv Weissman discovered that pediatric brain tumor, leukemia, bone tumor and neuroblastoma cells overproduce a cell surface protein known as CD47. The overproduction of CD47 on cancer cells tells macrophages "don't eat me," allowing the disease to progress.

The members of Dr. Weissman's team (Drs. Sam Cheshier, Jens Peter-Volkmer, and Sid Mitra) have successfully tested an antibody to block the "don't eat me signal" in a variety of cancer cells and in animals.

The CureSearch grant will support a clinical research team, including pediatric oncologists, research nurses, and a clinical research administrator under the leadership of Dr. Sakamoto to conduct a Phase I clinical trial at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University. This study will test whether anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody will decrease the size of tumors in children, by blocking the CD47 "don't eat me" signal and allowing macrophages to eliminate cancer cells.

If successful, this study will lead to a new approach to treat children with cancer, and improve both survival and quality of life for young people with cancer.

< Acceleration Initiative Grantees 


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