The innate immunity protein lactoferrin (Lf) since its discovery from bovine milk in 1939, and then from human and other mammals’ milk has been studied extensively for its structure, function, and multifunctional properties. Lf is an iron-binding glycoprotein present in breast milk (colostral, mature, and whey fraction of milk), and in mammalian secretions such as synovial fluid, seminal plasma, tear fluid, and saliva. Also known as an innate antibiotic as it plays role in iron hemostasis and protection against microbial infections. It has antiinflammatory, immunomodulatory, and immunoregulatory properties and protects against growth and advancement of tumors.
Worldwide data from animal feeding studies and clinical trials support bovine milk–derived Lf (bLf) and it is proven safety profile, chemopreventive, and anticarcinogenic activities. It was found that bLf may inhibit colon, lung, esophagus, and bladder cancer in animal models. It reduces the side effects of chemotherapy by increasing the number of white and red blood cells to normal levels. Lf also has antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial effects and has the capability to bind to iron, and this explains its ability to have antibacterial activity. It was proven that Lf receptors are located on macrophages and leukocytes, bacteria and platelets, and also in the gastrointestinal tract. It could be used in clinical testing due to its effect on skeletal muscle so it may help in treatment of osteoporosis. In this chapter, we describe the preclinical and clinical potential of cancer targeting properties of lactoferrin, especially bLf including its development as a multimodular theranostic.
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