Integrins regulate diverse functions in cancer pathology and in tumor cell development and
contribute to important processes such as cell shape, survival, proliferation, transcription, angiogenesis,
migration, and invasion. A number of snake venom proteins have the ability to interact with integrins.
Among these are the disintegrins, a family of small, non-enzymatic, and cysteine-rich proteins
found in the venom of numerous snake families. The venom proteins may have a potential role in
terms of novel therapeutic leads for cancer treatment. Disintegrin can target specific integrins and as such it is conceivable
that they could interfere in important processes involved in carcinogenesis, tumor growth, invasion and migration. Herein
we present a survey of studies involving the use of snake venom disintegrins for cancer detection and treatment. The aim
of this review is to highlight the relationship of integrins with cancer and to present examples as to how certain disintegrins
can detect and affect biological processes related to cancer. This in turn will illustrate the great potential of these
molecules for cancer research. Furthermore, we also outline several new approaches being created to address problems
commonly associated with the clinical application of peptide-based drugs such as instability, immunogenicity, and availability.
Keywords: Antitumor, carcinogenesis, cell death, integrins, metastasis, snake venoms, tumor promotion.
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