Athens, Ga. Scientists some years back found ways to automate the production of DNA and proteins, making studies of these essential components of life far easier. With complex carbohydrates, it's been a different story.
Until now, the construction of so-called "libraries" of carbohydrate molecules for biological study has been slow and tedious. In what may change all that, a team of scientists from the University of Georgia has created a method for the rapid chemical synthesis of complex carbohydrates, and that method could dramatically change the availability of such molecules for research.
"In the past, it has simply taken too long to make these molecules, and it has held back progress in the field," said Geert-Jan Boons, Franklin Professor of Chemistry and director of the research. "Now, we have a new method of synthesis that will make well-defined molecules available for in-depth study."
The method was reported May 23 in the journal Nature Chemistry.
Other authors of the paper, all from UGA when the work was done, include doctoral students Thomas Boltje and Jin Park and postdoctoral associate Jin-Hwan Kim. The team is part of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center at UGA, and Boons' appointment in chemistry is part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
The work was sponsored by the National Institute of General Medicine Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.
"The emerging field of glycomics has been severely hampered by a lack of robust, well-defined libraries of carbohydrate molecules, which are greatly needed to decipher the 'carbohydrate codes' used by cells for processes such as cell signaling, embryogenesis and neuronal development," said Pamela Marino, director of the glycobiology portfolio at the NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences. "Dr. Boons has established important new methodology for the rapid synthesis of complex oligosaccharides in a manner amenab
|Contact: Geert-Jan Boons|
University of Georgia