Targeting e‐selectin to tackle cancer using uproleselan

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E‐selectin is a vascular adhesion molecule expressed mainly on endothelium, and its primary role is to facilitate leukocyte cell trafficking by recognizing ligand surface proteins. E‐ selectin gained a new role since it was demonstrated to be involved in cancer cell trafficking, stem-like properties and therapy resistance. Therefore, being expressed in the tumor microenvironment, E‐selectin can potentially be used to eradicate cancer. Uproleselan (also known as GMI‐1271), a specific E‐selectin antagonist, has been tested on leukemia, myeloma, pancreatic, colon and breast cancer cells, most of which involve the bone marrow as a primary or as a metastatic tumor site. This novel therapy disrupts the tumor microenvironment by affecting the two main steps of metastasis— extravasation and adhesion—thus blocking E‐selectin reduces tumor dissemination. Additionally, uproleselan mobilized cancer cells from the protective vascular niche into the circulation, making them more susceptible to chemotherapy. Several preclinical and clinical studies summarized herein demonstrate that uproleselan has favorable safety and pharmacokinetics and is a tumor microenvironment‐disrupting agent that improves the efficacy of chemotherapy, reduces side effects such as neutropenia, intestinal mucositis and infections, and extends overall survival. This review highlights the critical contribution of E‐selectin and its specific antagonist, uproleselan, in the regulation of cancer growth, dissemination, and drug resistance in the context of the bone marrow microenvironment.

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