Posted: April 24, 2023
GlycoNet and its Integrated Services advance glycomics research and innovation towards new solutions.
More and more, we as a global community are recognizing that the health of people, animals, plants and our shared environment are inherently interconnected. Tackling global challenges requires working together across different fields using a One Health approach to innovation. One burgeoning scientific field called glycomics is making a tremendous impact across One Health—from developing new therapeutics for areas of immense unmet medical need, to combatting antimicrobial resistance, enhancing readiness for future pandemics, and enabling new sustainable food sources, biomaterials, and biofuels. Glycomics is the study of the roles of carbohydrates—also known as glycanes or sugars—in all biological systems, including humans, animals, plants, bacteria, and viruses.
The global market for glycomics-based drugs is growing rapidly and expected to reach US$257B in the next five years. For example, 70% of therapeutic proteins approved by EU and US regulators are glycoproteins, and five of the top 10 selling drugs in 2022, generating combined revenue of US$58B, were glycosylated (i.e., involving the addition of a glycan or sugar molecule).
Canada is at the forefront of this scientific frontier as one of the world’s top three leaders in glycomics—a position achieved by bringing together globally-recognized multi-disciplinary scientists from coast to coast.
“GlycoNet was formed to meet the needs of a multi-disciplinary science and serves as a research, innovation, and commercialization network that works with a variety of researchers from all across the country, from synthetic chemists to clinicians,” explained Dr. Warren Wakarchuk, Scientific Director of GlycoNet. “Because of the unique nature of the network, we’re able to bring professionals together from a wide range of fields, facilitating collaboration and inspiring innovative work—and GlycoNet is integral to this effort.”
To ensure the success of its unique collaborative translational model, GlycoNet created GlycoNet Integrated Services (GIS). Through GIS, GlycoNet’s researchers and partners have access to the specialized glycomics tools needed to advance discovery and create impact. Leveraging $35M in federal and provincial infrastructure investments, GIS is the world’s largest, most advanced, and comprehensive suite of specialized glycomics tools and services in the academic community. Through GlycoNet, GIS uniquely equips researchers with a “toolbox” and support to conduct cutting-edge research and create new technologies, underpinned by world-leading glycomics experts.
GlycoNet extends Canada’s life sciences capacity with the expertise, technologies, and infrastructure to help realize Canada’s One Health and Sustainable Development Goals, including bioinnovation for health, agriculture, ocean, environment, and many other areas that impact the lives of Canadians. For example, GlycoNet investigators have developed disease-modifying therapies and tools to monitor the progression of Parkinson’s disease, as well as a novel technology for delivering anti-inflammatory therapeutics to the gut of livestock. These are the kinds of broad, life-changing impacts we’re already seeing as a result of GlycoNet.
“The mission of GlycoNet is to accelerate discovery, development, and commercialization of next-generation, sustainable, One-Health innovation, providing made-in-Canada solutions to critical challenges in healthcare, agriculture and environmental sustainability,” said Dr. Elizabeth Nanak, GlycoNet CEO.
With its pan-Canadian network of globally recognized glycomics researchers and clinical scientists, GlycoNet is developing next-generation solutions to our most pressing health and sustainability challenges. GlycoNet’s wholistic approach supports technology development from discovery to pre-clinical validation and by wielding the tools available through GIS, GlycoNet is developing and mobilizing state-of-the-art glycomics tools to support both fundamental scientific discovery and research translation.
Almost 300 Canadian and international researchers and life sciences companies each year benefit from GlycoNet’s translational program and suite of specialized glycomics services. For example, GlycoNet investigators have developed an ABO-antibody assay to monitor antibody production and potential rejection after an ABO-incompatible organ transplant; have identified a potential drug candidate for Staphylococcus aureus, a very dangerous pathogen that causes a wide variety of clinical diseases; and have produced proprietary antibodies to detect invasive aspergillosis and to develop CAR T cell therapeutics for the disease.
“With GlycoNet and its GIS toolbox, we are able to maximize the impact of glycomics research, while simultaneously providing an incredibly unique and inclusive environment for training the next generation of glycomics scientists,” said Wakarchuk. “GlycoNet is maintaining Canada at the forefront of glycomics research, continually expanding Canadian capabilities and creating new global synergies—empowering us to define our future and be drivers of change around the world.”
Réseau Canadien de la Glycomique
E5-33 Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre
University of Alberta, T6G 2G2
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