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Mono-sialyl lactose ceramides (MSLC) as targets for anti-cancer vaccines

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MSLCs have several biological functions, including modulation of systemic immune response. These molecules have a different expression in malignant cells as compared to the corresponding normal cells and are involved in cancer progression affecting the host’s specific antitumoral response in different ways.

Although the N-glycolyl variety of MSLCs (NGcGM3) is almost exclusively expressed in tumor tissue in human beings, the importance of this glycolipid in the biology of the malignant cell has been clarified only recently by our scientists. The potent immunosuppressive effect of N-acetylated MSLCs is well known; but we have recently made a further first finding on NGcGM3 negative modulation of CD4 expression in murine and human T lymphocytes, especially in non-activated T cells.

These relevant findings make NGcGM3 stand out as a possible inhibitor of antitumor surveillance with ability to neoexpression in certain cancers, all of which validate this heterophylic molecule as a potentially critical target for cancer immunotherapy.