John Lavigne

University of South Carolina
Synthetic lectins: New tools for detection and management

Our goal is to develop synthetic lectin arrays for diagnosing cancer by detecting abnormal glycosylation events known to occur during oncogenesis and continue as the cancer progresses. Instead of relying on the recognition of a single and often variable biomarker, our approach relies on the recognition of general glycosylation patterns and does not require prior knowledge of targeted glycans. Consequently, we are interested in producing a composite snapshot of many unique biomarkers, i.e. a fingerprint, thus providing a complete qualitative cellular profile.

As a result of the support provided by Teva Pharmaceuticals we have been able to: 1) streamline the development process and assay response by moving from static microscopy-based methods to dynamic flow-based analyses; 2) advance previous work that could detect the desired glycosylation changes in membrane-bound glycoproteins to also demonstrating our ability to detect these changes in secreted glycoproteins; 3) enhance our discovery process relying on more clinically relevant screening approaches as compared to commercially available, purified glycoproteins; and 4) identify many of the fundamental bases for analyte binding using synthetic lectins.

What this all boils down to is that thanks to Teva Pharmaceuticals, we have been able to advance our work from a relatively slow and monotonous cell-based assay to a greatly simplified, rapid serum-based assessment, thus achieving a diagnostic that is more amenable for use in the real-world. We have also been able to better target our synthetic lectins towards more clinically relevant scenarios while also enhancing the quality of our chemical interactions thereby providing improved assay sensitivity.