Neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), also called CD56, is a homophilic binding glycoprotein expressed on the surface of neurons, glia, skeletal muscle and natural killer cells. NCAM has been implicated as having a role in cell–cell adhesion, neurite outgrowth, synaptic plasticity, and learning and memory. NCAM is thought to signal to induce neurite outgrowth via the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) and act upon the p59Fyn signaling pathway. Tumors that are CD56-positive are myeloma, myeloid leukemia, neuroendocrine tumors, Wilms' tumor, neuroblastoma, NK/T cell lymphomas, pancreatic acinar cell carcinoma, pheochromocytoma, paraganglioma, small cell lung carcinoma, and the Ewing's sarcoma family of tumors. NCAM has been used as a target molecule for experimental antibody-based immunotherapy. Successful radioimmunolocalisation of metastases was demonstrated after giving injections of NCAM-binding 123J-UJ13a or 131J-UJ13a radioimmunoconjugates to children with neuroblastoma. Patients with small cell lung cancer were treated with the anti-NCAM immunotoxine huN901-DM1 in two different clinical studies, revealing acceptable toxicity and signs of clinical response.
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