Chinese Co-operation Hopes to Unravel Secrets of Sugars

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Professor Lokesh Joshi, SFI Stokes Professor of Glycosciences, NUI Galway, and Director of GlycoHIT
Professor Lokesh Joshi, SFI Stokes Professor of Glycosciences, NUI Galway, and Director of GlycoHIT

Researchers involved in a leading EU project, GlycoHIT, are forging relationships with Chinese contemporaries in the rapidly emerging field of glycoscience. With important clinical and industrial applications, glycoscience is the study of the complex sugars which cover all cells in the human body, and many of the proteins in the bloodstream. These sugars play important roles in health and diseases and are indicators of changes associated with diseases.

In particular, the international project GlycoHIT, which is led by National University Ireland Galway, is trying to unravel the puzzle of carbohydrate biomarkers in cancer.The GlycoHIT project is involved in the development of innovative technologies that will enable fast and accurate analysis of glycosylation (process attaching sugars to proteins and lipids) in blood samples from cancer patients.

Alongside National University Ireland Galway, the GlycoHIT consortium consists of partners from eight European counties and Israel, Japan, USA and China. The Chinese partners in GlycoHIT consortium are from Tsinghua University Beijing and Hunan University Changsha.

Further relationships have been developing over recent times with Chinese groups. The Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology has funded a sister consortium led by Beijing Proteome Research Centre with members from Fudan University, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Acebright Pharma Group in Shanghai.

The focus of the Chinese consortium is liver diseases including inflammation and cancer. Along with GlycoHIT, the Chinese sister consortium co-organized the first Clinical Glycoproteomic meeting in Hangzhou earlier this year, to initiate collaborative discussion among the members of the two consortia.

More recently, the GlycoHIT members organised an International Symposium on Bioanalysis and Biosensors in Tsinghua University focusing on the cutting edge developments in nano-devices, proteomics and biopharmaceutical industry needs for protein and glycan technologies. Further meetings in Hunan University have also allowed partners to share their research progress with other colleagues to further collaboration with China in biopharmaceutical and biomedical fields.

“We hope to work together to find funding mechanisms to sustain and grow these interactions and establish these two consortia as poster children in EU-China research partnerships”, explains Professor Lokesh Joshi, SFI Stokes Professor of Glycosciences, National University of Ireland Galway, and Director of GlycoHIT.

GlycoHIT (Glycomics by High throughput Integrated Technologies) is funded under EU-FP7 Health (SICA) programme.

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Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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