Cancer serum biomarkers based on aberrant post-translational modifications of glycoproteins: Clinical value and discovery strategies, M. Luísa S. Silva, Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1856 (2015) 165-177. doi:10.1016/j.bbcan.2015.07.002
Due to the increase in life expectancy in the last decades, as well as changes in lifestyle, cancer has become one of the most common diseases both in developed and developing countries. Early detection remains the most promising approach to improve long-term survival of cancer patients and this may be achieved by efficient screening of biomarkers in biological fluids. Great efforts have been made to identify specific alterations during oncogenesis. Changes at the cellular glycosylation profiles are among such alterations. The ?glycosylation machinery? of cells is affected by malignant transformation due to the altered expression of glycogens, leading to changes in glycan biosynthesis and diversity. Alterations in the post-translational modifications of proteins that occur in cancer result in the expression of antigenically distinct glycoproteins. Therefore, these aberrant and cancer-specific glycoproteins and the autoantibodies that are produced in response to their presence constitute targets for cancer biomarkers' search. Different strategies have been implemented for the discovery of cancer glycobiomarkers and are herein reviewed, along with their potentialities and limitations. Practical issues related with serum analysis are also addressed, as well as the challenges that this area faces in the near future.