Ernst Chain Building The Glycobiology Training, Research and Infrastructure Centre (GlycoTRIC) was established in June 2004 to promote interdisciplinary study of the functions of sugars in biology and their roles in human health and disease thus providing an outstanding environment for research training in the field of glycobiology.

Glycobiology Network is an Imperial Networks of Excellence which facilitates glycobiology research at the interface between life sciences, the physical sciences and medicine. It includes research groups from the Faculties of Natural Sciences, Medicine and Engineering at Imperial College London.

The aims of the Centre are:

1. To combine traditional disciplines of oligosaccharide chemistry, receptor biochemistry, cell biology and physiology with novel tools and approaches, to address key aspects of biology that are ripe for new understanding. This approach promises to revolutionise our understanding of what sugars do.

2. To facilitate interactions between groups knowledgeable in glycobiology and those positioned to apply this knowledge to the understanding of disease processes and the development of therapeutic approaches. These interactions are essential to exploit the knowledge base being developed.

Image right: Ernst Chain Building, Wolfson Laboratories

What is Glycobiology?

Glycobiology encompasses the disciplines of glycomics and glycoproteomics. These are the study of carbohydrates (glycans, sugars, saccharides) attached to proteins. More than half of all proteins are predicted to be glycoproteins. The role of glycans impinges on many in vivo events, including:

  • Cell adhesion e.g. lymphocyte rolling
  • Immunological events
  • Hepatic Hormone Clearance
  • Neural development/function

Accordingly full structural definition of glycoproteins is a desirable objective in many fields of biology and medicine. Establishment of the complete glycan repertoires form an important part of our understanding of structure-function relationship. It is hoped that such understanding will allow us to modulate fundamental biological systems for beneficial effects.  In many circumstances, owing to low sample quantities and structural heterogeneity, mass spectrometry-based glycomics/ glycoproteomics is the method of choice for structural analysis.