The potential importance of swainsonine in therapy for cancers and immunology

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Swainsonine, an indolizidine alkaloid, was initially used in biomedical research as a tool to investigate the biosynthesis and function of asparagine-linked 'complex' type oligosaccharide moieties of glycoproteins. Recently, swainsonine has generated interest in its potential use as an anticancer agent with reports that it (i) inhibits tumor growth and metastasis, (ii) augments natural killer (NK) and macrophage-mediated tumor cell killing, and (ii) stimulates bone marrow cell proliferation. The antineoplastic activity of swainsonine can be explained at least in part by augmentation of immune effector mechanisms. The potential application of swainsonine as an anticancer agent is discussed. © 1991.

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