A new treatment still in the test-tube stage appears to make cancers wither and stop spreading by choking off their blood supply, researchers say.

The developers of the treatment say it may overcome shortcomings that have doomed earlier attempts to starve cancers.The drug is still in early stages of development and has not been tested on people. Many potential cancer treatments look promising at such early stages but fail when tried on the sick.

A report on the new work, conducted at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, was published in Friday's issue of the journal Cell.

The treatment uses an antibody called LM609. When injected into the blood, it seems to stop newly forming blood vessels from receiving signals they need to keep growing. Sending out new blood vessels is an essential step in the growth and spread of tumors.

"The antibody tricks these newly forming vessels into self-destruction, or programmed cell death, by interfering with their survival signal," said Dr. David A. Cheresh. "When the signal is blocked, the cells think they are in the wrong place and commit suicide."

Cheresh and Peter C. Brooks, the treatment's developers, said animal studies suggest it will work against cancers of the lung, breast, pancreas, brain, larynx and skin.

The researchers have tested the treatment on tumor fragments placed in chicken embryos. They said they hope to begin studies on people within 18 months.

Earlier attempts to starve tumors have failed because cancer can use more than one method to grow blood vessels. Experts hope the new approach interferes with a process that is essential to all these methods of growth.

Dr. Judah Folkman, a pioneer in the study of cancer blood supply, called the Scripps work "a remarkable achievement."