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The Consortium for Functional Glycomics is a global research initiative funded by the National Institute for General Medical Sciences. Its aim is to understand the role of carbohydrate-protein interactions at the cell surface in cell-cell communication. To this end, the Consortium has set out to build an infrastructure to facilitate glycomics research. This currently consists of scientific cores that are dedicated to generating reagents and developing technologies, and subsequently making these available to researchers worldwide. We have employed a bioinformatics approach to create a central database of glycomics data. This central repository is the composite of relational databases which incorporate the information generated by various scientific cores. This collective in turn allows for the seamless integration, data mining, and analysis of complementary data sets.



The collective of carbohydrates in an organism is called a glycome. The study of the spatio-temporal identity and purpose of an organism’s glycome refers to an emerging branch of bioscience called glycomics. This field by necessity confronts a formidable complexity not observed in other fields of biomedicine. Advances in glycomics require improvements in molecular technologies as well as immense computational power.


Effective and rapid sequencing methods developed for work with proteins and nucleic acids have promoted the elucidation of structure-function relationships in proteins and DNA. The development of similar sequencing strategies for complex glycans has thus far been limited by their structural diversity as well as by the lack of information regarding template-based synthesis of these molecules. There are currently a few limited approaches for sequencing complex polysaccharides. We have developed a more rapid and effective sequencing strategy for heparin sulfate glycosaminoglycans that uses powerful computational methods to manipulate the experimental data obtained through the chemical or enzymatic degradation of polymer chains. These integrated technologies permit the researcher to analyze a biological sample and converge at a single, final glycan sequence.

Last Updated: November 29, 2005

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