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IMAGE: A new method for assembling a glycan array. view more 

Credit: Wu Lab / The Scripps Research Institute

LA JOLLA, Calif. — Feb. 28, 2018 — Nearly every living cell is studded with branching chains of carbohydrates called glycans. Glycans play diverse roles in shaping how a cell interacts with its environment.

Now, researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have described a new method for adorning cells with various glycans and screening interactions between glycans and proteins. Their breakthrough, published today in Nature Communications, may expand research on the roles of glycans in human diseases, including cancers.

“Scientists have been trying to make glycan arrays that every scientist interested in glycans can access in their own labs for years,” says Peng Wu, PhD, a TSRI associate professor and senior author of the study. “We’ve not only done it, but we’ve done it in a way that’s very easy.”

Researchers solve problem in glycan screening

The patterns of glycans and glycan-binding proteins on a cell’s membrane can differentiate cancer cells from healthy cells, control cells’ roles in development and contribute to diverse interactions between adult cells. Genetic diseases that affect the ability of cells to properly create glycans

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