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The Sugar Code: from (bio)chemical concept to clinics (GLYCOPHARM)
Start date: Nov 1, 2012, End date: Oct 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Coding of biochemical information is commonly described to be based solely on nucleotides and amino acids, whereas carbohydrates, the most abundant type of molecule in Nature, appear sidelined in this respect. That carbohydrates, as part of cellular glycoconjugates, have exceptional talents for building biochemical signals is an emerging insight, at the heart of the concept of the Sugar Code. Intuitively, emergence of recognition partners for information transfer is expected, and this is the case. Thus, coding of bioinformation in glycans and information transfer via lectins is key to a wealth of medically relevant processes, e.g. infection, immune regulation and malignancy, now awaiting its full exploitation pharmaceutically. To do so, training in this exceptionally interdisciplinary field needs to be provided. With this aim, scientific and country/gender issues are strategically combined in this network. Its composition assures a continuous chain of research expertise, from computational and synthetic chemistry to state of the art biophysical chemistry and structural biology, then to biochemistry, molecular cell biology and pharmaceutical/biomedical sciences, generating innovative clinical approaches. Notably, academia is linked with industry, bringing in the essence of business acumen into the training programme. This activity and the research deliberately planned as interdisciplinary projects ensure an optimal training for young researchers in a dynamically developing area of conspicuous biopharmaceutical potential. Equally important, it lays the foundation to inspire novel strategies for the design of potent and selective inhibitors against lectins and the development of lectins (or suitably engineered variant(s)) as therapeuticals. As a boon for the success of the network, cooperations between several partners have already proven successful, especially increasing the core in Madrid and partners in Dublin, Munich and Prague.

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