The focus of this review is the ganglio-series of glycosphingolipids found in neuroblastoma (NB) and the myriad of unanswered questions associated with their possible role(s) in this cancer. NB is one of the more common solid malignancies of children. Five-year survival for those diagnosed with low risk NB is 90–95%, while that for children with high-risk NB is around 40–50%. Much of the survival rate reflects age of diagnosis with children under a year having a much better prognosis than those over two. Identification of expression of GD2 on the surface of most NB cells led to studies of the effectiveness and subsequent approval of anti-GD2 antibodies as a treatment modality. Despite much success, a subset of patients, possibly those whose tumors fail to express concentrations of gangliosides such as GD1b and GT1b found in tumors from patients with a good prognosis, have tumors refractory to treatment. These observations support discussion of what is known about control of ganglioside synthesis, and their actual functions in NB, as well as their possible relationship to treatment response.
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