Dr. Weeks” Comment: Cancer TUMOR cells are confused and distracting cells acting on bad information. Thus the TUMOR is a symptom of cancer and is not accurately thought of as the cancer process itself. What is the distracting entity? What actually causes the cancer – especially 4 years after your cancer surgeon naively told you “We got it all and now you are cancer free.” Answer: the cancer STEM cell. The really important target. The cell which is made more numerous and more virulent by chemotherapy and radiation therapy?
Pioneering oncologist, Dr. Irving Weissman has focused on cancer STEM cells for the past decade and demonstrates the truth of the above statement with this declaration “… we were able to show that nearly all stepwise mutations that lead to the development of leukemia and blood diseases, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, occur in blood-forming stem cells, apparently hitchhiking in these self-renewing cells to form disease clones...” So, if your oncologist is still recommending chemo and radiation instead of immunotherapy and anti-inflammation…tell her or him to keep up with the research and…. run away!
Stanford stem cell researcher Irving Weissman awarded Albany Prize
Irving Weissman, MD, director of Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, will receive the 2019 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research for his pioneering work in stem cell and cancer biology, including the identification of blood-forming stem cells and their role in blood cancers, as well as the discovery of a “don’t eat me” signal on the surface of many cancer cells that protects them from being eliminated by the immune system.
Weissman is a professor of pathology and of developmental biology at the Stanford School of Medicine and is the director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Stem Cell Research at Stanford. He will share the $500,000 prize with Bert Vogelstein, MD, who is the Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology at Johns Hopkins University’s Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and the director of its Lustgarten Laboratory for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
Vogelstein is known for discovering that a protein called p53 functions as a tumor suppressor and that its inactivation is critical to the development of many human cancers. He was also the first to demonstrate in colorectal cancer that disease progression is a multistep process resulting from the sequential accumulation of mutations in specific cancer-associated genes. Together, Weissman and Vogelstein transformed the understanding of cancer biology, cancer genomics and disease initiation and progression, paving the way for earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments for a wide range of diseases including leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and severe combined immunodeficiency (also known as “bubble boy” disease).
The two will be presented with the prize at a Sept. 25 ceremony in Albany, New York.
“Dr. Weissman’s groundbreaking work in advancing our understanding of blood-forming stem cells and cancer has transformed many aspects of modern medicine,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine. “The discovery of the ‘don’t eat me’ signal on cancer cells promises to lead to novel clinical applications that will improve human health. We congratulate Dr. Weissman on this well-deserved recognition.”
Adult stem cells are unique in that they can both self-renew and make progenitor cells that give rise to all the specific cell types in a particular tissue of the body. In 1988, Weissman was the first to identify and isolate in mice the hematopoietic, or blood-forming, stem cells that form all the cells of the blood and immune system. In 1992, he and his group found the human blood-forming cells. He and his group have since painstakingly traced the cellular steps leading from a stem cell to each of the many types of mature blood and immune cells in humans, and identified those that go awry in many blood diseases and cancers.
Weissman also identified a molecule called CD47 that exists on the surface of nearly every human cancer cell and protects them from attack by immune cells called macrophages. An antibody targeting CD47, which the researchers have termed a “don’t eat me” signal, is in clinical trials in people with several types of blood and solid cancers. Overexpression of CD47 is also implicated in fibrotic diseases such as scleroderma and surgical adhesions. Recently, Weissman identified additional “don’t eat me” signals, each of which is expressed by particular types of cancers.
“I’m especially honored to share this award with Bert Vogelstein, whose work I have followed for many years and greatly admire,” said Weissman, who is the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation in Cancer Research. “Inspired by his earlier work on colon cancer, we were able to show that nearly all stepwise mutations that lead to the development of leukemia and blood diseases, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, occur in blood-forming stem cells, apparently hitchhiking in these self-renewing cells to form disease clones. It’s a fantastic feeling to join the group of highly accomplished past recipients of the Albany Prize.”