Nucleic acids, proteins, lipids, and glycans are the four classes of biomolecules that define life. In order to better understand biological processes one must decipher the interplay of these molecules within our cells. The field of glycomics has always lagged behind those of genomics and proteomics; mainly because of our limited knowledge and the highly complex nature of glycan structures. Recent advances in life science research have painted a very different point of view of the importance of these quintessential biomolecules. Even though our knowledge is still limited, glycans are becoming more important to other fields such as vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, materials, and energy.

Carbohydrates are assembled via enzymatic reactions within living systems starting from individual monosaccharide building blocks. This mechanism creates diverse glycan structures, leading to various functions in all life forms. On the other hand, this structural complexity makes it difficult to understand the structure and function of glycans. Since glycomics research is only carried out by a few key players, scientists will need to develop the tools that are necessary to advance the field so that it reaches a level similar to that of genomics or proteomics. Given these tools, glycoscience may see a new resurgence that could transform our understanding of various biological processes that are both beneficial and/or harmful for life.

GlycoUniverse GmbH & Co KGaA

We have started GlycoUniverse in order to deliver the tools needed to assist glycomics research and exploit the full potential of glycans. GlycoUniverse GmbH & Co KGaA is a spin-off company of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, a leading institute in glycoscience research. Our company, based in Berlin, Germany, was founded in October 2013 and will be providing customers with a range of products for the synthesis and study of glycans. Our products will allow chemists to quickly access well-defined glycan structures for research in related fields. Alternatively, as experts in the synthesis of complex carbohydrates, we are also capable of providing our customers with their structure(s) of interest!!

The company’s core business will be focused in three main areas:

• Providing an automated oligosaccharide synthesizer, the Glyconeer®, for sale worldwide.

• The manufacture of monosaccharide building blocks, or synthetic intermediates and starting materials thereof, for both the solut-on and solid-phase synthesis of glycans.

• The custom synthesis of both routine and complex carbohydrate structures.

This combination of services will provide researchers with new resources and capabilities that were previously not available to them. Further development in the glycosciences will result in the procurement of more glycans, as well as an understanding of their function in biological processes. This will subsequently speed up the advancement in other fields, such as research on carbohydrate-based vaccines, that require access to well-defined carbohydrate structures and tools.