Our Focus

Research at the Alberta Glycomics Centre is based on understanding the interactions of carbohydrates at the molecular level and applying the knowledge gained toward medical and commercial applications. Efforts to decipher the structure and function of carbohydrates focus on three major areas of Glycomic Science:

i) Carbohydrate Therapeutics

Carbohydrates play critical roles in many pathological processes. Several projects at the Centre aim to design and develop effective therapeutic agents and/or vaccines against such infectious agents as the pathogens that cause tuberculosis, bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients, and gastrointestinal infections. Other projects are focused on developing carbohydrate-based strategies to combat other diseases, including various cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.

ii) Structural Glycobiology Methods

A fundamental understanding of carbohydrate structure and function would not be possible without the proper analytical tools. The development of methods that provide researchers with innovative tools for probing deeper into the molecular nature of carbohydrate interactions is critical for continued progress in carbohydrate research. The Centre has several projects aimed at expanding this glycoanalytical toolbox. These projects include developing glycoengineering approaches that exploit bacterial systems to generate complex carbohydrates by design, single molecule and single cell techniques that will enable a closer look at carbohydrate-guided processes at the cell surface, novel mass spectrometry methods that will facilitate discovery of carbohydrate-binding proteins, and new computational methods that will enable exploration into carbohydrate structure and function at the atomic scale.

iii) Analytical Glycobiology Methods

Detailed knowledge of carbohydrate structure can offer valuable insight into carbohydrate function as well as the design of therapeutics or other commercially viable carbohydrate-based materials. Use of technologies that provide structural information, such as X-ray crystallography and computational methods, is instrumental to the success of several projects at the Centre.

Ongoing Projects

  • Methods of diagnosing bacterial infections using bacterial glycoproteins
  • Genetic encoding of chemical post-translational modification for phage-displayed libraries
  • Development of multifunctional polyanionic cyclodrextrin dendrimers
  • High-throughput fluorescent protein exchange (FPX) for identifying protein inhibitors
  • Parallel organic synthesis on patterned paper using a solvent-repelling material