Salanti A, 2015, Cancer Cell (Link to abstract)
Malaria forces erythrocytes to express a protein that binds to a proteoglycan found specifically on placenta which helps to avoid clearance in the spleen. This group found that most carcinomas and sarcomas have this same placental proteoglycan on their surface but that it is rarely found in other normal tissue. The group engineered a recombinant version of the malarial protein and it effectively targeted malignant cells with this surface marker. They then fused this protein to diphtheria toxin and found significant tumor killing effect in a variety of tumors. They have now developed a drug based on this concept called VDC886 that they have tested in mice.
*This is a totally new approach to targeting more than one cancer type. There is now a new promising drug that is yet to enter the trial pipeline. We now also know about a surface marker specific to malignancy that can be stained for diagnostic purposes.