Lectin-based phototherapy targeting cell surface glycans for pancreatic cancer

Int J Cancer. 2023 Apr 1;152(7):1425-1437. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34362. Epub 2022 Dec 7.


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is resistant to current treatments but lectin-based therapy targeting cell surface glycans could be a promising new horizon. Here, we report a novel lectin-based phototherapy (Lec-PT) that combines the PDAC targeting ability of rBC2LCN lectin to a photoabsorber, IRDye700DX (rBC2-IR700), resulting in a novel and highly specific near-infrared, light-activated, anti-PDAC therapy. Lec-PT cytotoxicity was first verified in vitro with a human PDAC cell line, Capan-1, indicating that rBC2-IR700 is only cytotoxic upon cellular binding and exposure to near-infrared light. The therapeutic efficacy of Lec-PT was subsequently verified in vivo using cell lines and patient-derived, subcutaneous xenografting into nude mice. Significant accumulation of rBC2-IR700 occurs as early as 2 hours postintravenous administration while cytotoxicity is only achieved upon exposure to near-infrared light. Repeated treatments further slowed tumor growth. Lec-PT was also assessed for off-target toxicity in the orthotopic xenograft model. Shielding of intraperitoneal organs from near-infrared light minimized off-target toxicity. Using readily available components, Lec-PT specifically targeted pancreatic cancer with high reproducibility and on-target, inducible toxicity. Rapid clinical development of this method is promising as a new modality for treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Keywords: lectin; pancreatic cancer; photoimmunotherapy; rBC2LCN; targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Lectins*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use
  • Phototherapy / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Lectins
  • Photosensitizing Agents