Direct Targeting of Cancer Cells: A Multiparameter Approach

Lectins have been widely used in cell surface studies and in the development of potential anticancer drugs. Many past studies that have examined lectin toxicity have only evaluated the effects on cancer cells, not their non-cancer counterparts. In addition, few past studies have evaluated the relationship between lectin-cell binding and lectin toxicity on both cell types. Here we examine these parameters in one study: lectin-cell binding and lectin toxicity with both cancer cells and their normal counterparts. We found that the human colon cancer cell line CCL-220/Colo320DM bound to agarose beads derivatized with Phaseolus vulgaris agglutinin (PHA-L) and wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), while the non-cancer human colon cell line CRL-1459/CCD-18Co did not. When these lectins were tested for their effects on cell viability in culture, both cell lines were affected by the lectins but at 6, 48 and 72 h incubation times, PHA-L was most toxic to the cancer cell line in a concentration dependent manner. At 48 h incubation, WGA was more toxic to the cancer cell line. The results suggest that it may be possible to develop lectin protocols that selectively target cancer cells for death. In any case, examination of both malignant cells and their non-malignant counterparts, analysis of their binding characteristics to immobilized lectins, and examination of the toxicity of free lectins in culture, provides a multiparameter model for obtaining more comprehensive information than from more limited approaches.