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Lupus vs. Cancer

November 22, 2012

Lupus antibodies may become an unlikely ally against cancer.



Siccing lupus on cancer.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People suffering from lupus produce antibodies that attack their own cells.  Now, Yale University oncologist Peter Glazer is turning those antibodies against cancer.  In a lab experiment, Glazer’s team used a lupus antibody from mice to penetrate cancer cells.  The original plan was to add a protein that made the tumor more vulnerable to radiation.

PETER GLAZER (Yale University):

But in doing what we call the control experiment, we tested the effect of the antibody by itself. And we made the surprising discovery that the antibody made the cells much more sensitive to the radiation treatments.

The same antibody has already been proven safe in a lupus vaccine trial.  And while there’s more work ahead before trying this in people, the findings line up with reports that lupus patients are less susceptible to some cancers.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.