Certain carbohydrate antigens of malignantly transformed cells have been identified as markers for the onset of cancer and have become targets for the development of anticancer vaccine therapies. For tumor antigens, many carbohydrate antigens belong to T-independent (TI) antigens. Carbohydrate conjugated to protein carriers can switch TI antigen to a T-dependent (TD) antigen. Attempts to add an innate immune response element (such as Toll-like receptor ligand) to carbohydrate TI-antigens have also been studied. Glycosylation inhibitors or small interfering RNA have also been used for antitumor and/or antiviral agents. This review aims at describing the vast spectrum of tumor carbohydrate antigens and strategies to develop cancer vaccines and drugs.
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