Scientists help cure terminal cancer in mice

October 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
There is some promising cancer research being reported in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." Scientists at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco say they have succeeded in turning the tide on terminal stages of cancer in animals. ABC7 took a closer look at the research and what it could eventually mean for humans.

"You can see the really striking reduction in both the number and size of these lung tumors," says Dr. Bob Debs from the California Pacific Medical Center.

Debs showed ABC7 pictures of the tumor-infested lungs of a mouse with terminal stage cancer and pictures of what a new therapy has done to bring back those mice from the brink of death.

"You don't see any tumors that are either that size or that extensive," says Debs.

After seven years of research at California Pacific Medical Center's Research Institute, Debs says his treatment has worked on colon and breast cancers and melanoma.

"To our knowledge this is a new pathway for antibodies to work against cancers," says Debs.

"I think that's probably one of the most exciting things I've heard in regards to breast cancer treatment in a long time," says cancer patient Lainy Rappaport.

Like many cancer patients, Rappaport pours over pages of the latest cancer information, but she feels like this stands out.

"So to come up and to be able to find an antibody, something that will definitely attack the tumor itself sounds extremely promising," says Rappaport.

This new antibody blocks the molecules that command proteins to feed cancer cells.

When asked about the side effects, Debs says, "This antibody in mice seems remarkably safe. We haven't done formal toxicity studies, but when it's given to mice that are already extremely ill from their cancers, they get better. So if there were any significant toxicity, it's unlikely they would survive it."

The trial phase for humans is still at least two years away. The next big hurdle is to transform the mouse antibody into a human antibody.

"We're relatively confident that this will go forward. The safety profile so far, looks very, very, strong," says Debs.