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Introduction to Glycomics

Glycomics is the study of sugars in living cells. Glycomics is analogous to genomics and proteomics—it’s the study of sugars in biological systems. 

The Secret Life of Carbohydrates

Due to the central role that sugars play in many biological processes, the glycomics field is extremely multidisciplinary and has attracted great interest from researchers with diverse backgrounds. Chains of sugars called glycans have been found to play a role in every major disease, and as a result there has been a surge of interest in exploring the therapeutic promise of glycomics.

Why are sugar molecules important?

Sugars are everywhere in our bodies and the environment. Sugar molecules do much more than simply provide a source of food energy – they give trees their strength, determine our blood types, and protect microorganisms from their environments. In fact, sugars (also called carbohydrates or saccharides) are the most abundant biomolecule on the planet. Along with proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, sugars are one of the fundamental building blocks of biology. Glycans coat the surface of every cell in our bodies, and their attachment to enzymes is the most common post-translational modification.

How is glycomics a uprising and promising field?

Contrairement aux acides nucléiques et aux protéines, les glycanes ne sont pas synthétisés à l'aide d'un modèle. Leur expression et leur composition peuvent donc varier énormément en fonction de l'environnement cellulaire local. De plus, les sucres individuels peuvent être liés ensemble de bien plus de manières différentes que les acides nucléiques et les protéines, compliquant considérablement les efforts de synthèse et d'analyse. Pour ces raisons, la synthèse automatisée et les bases de données ne sont pas aussi bien développées en glycomique qu'en génomique et en protéomique, mais ces technologies progressent rapidement.


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