Galectins in cancer: carcinogenesis, diagnosis and therapy

Ali Hasan Ebrahim, Zainab Alalawi, Leonardo Mirandola, Rahman Rakhshanda, Scott Dahlbeck, Diane Nguyen, Marjorie Jenkins, Fabio Grizzi, Everardo Cobos, Jose A. Figueroa, Maurizio Chiriva-Internati


A major breakthrough in the field of medical oncology has been the discovery of galectins and their role in cancer development, progression and metastasis. In this review article we have condensed the results of a number of studies published over the past decade in an effort to shed some light on the unique role played by the galectin family of proteins in neoplasia, and how this knowledge may alter the approach to cancer diagnosis as well as therapy in the future. In this review we have also emphasized the potential use of galectin inhibitors or modulators in the treatment of cancer and how this novel treatment modality may affect patient outcomes in the future. Based on current pre-clinical models we believe the use of galectin inhibitors/modulators will play a significant role in cancer treatment in the future. Early clinical studies are underway to evaluate the utility of these promising agents in cancer patients.