Researchers and industry convene for GlycoSience Event at NUI Galway

An estimated 150 delegates are expected to travel to NUI Galway tomorrow for the fifth annual GlycoScience Ireland meeting. Glycoscience is the study of complex sugars which cover all cells in the human body including most proteins found in the bloodstream.

Among the dignitaries expected to attend will be research representatives from biopharmaceutical companies, medical diagnostic organisations, functional food providers. The topic of the upcoming glycotechnologies will be motioned during the conference, and the potential of the field to impact the Irish biosciences industry will be explored.

GlycoScience Ireland uses a fusion of research methods from academic, industrial, and clinical research outlets to devise various events, initiatives, and industrial applications. This allows for improvements in fundamental research which will eventually lead to developing novel technologies relevant to industry.

“Ireland has been a trailblazer in this exciting field of science,” explains NUI Galway’s Professor Lokesh Joshi, leader of Glycoscience Ireland. “We can achieve medical and technological breakthroughs by understanding the complex sugars at work in the body. Rapid diagnosis of diseases such as cancer, or the creation of new more effective and targeted drugs – these are just some of the hopes this area offers. There is also potential to develop, for example, the next generation of functional foods.”

Among the keynote speakers are Professor Richard D Cummings who is the William Patterson Timmie endowed professor and chair of the department of Biochemistry at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Professor Cummings is a well-recognized leader in glycoscience and has pioneered analytical technologies in this field. He will highlight the opportunities in developing novel technologies in glycomics to gain better understanding of diseases and health.

Also speaking is Dr Kirk Leister, head of new technologies at Bristol Myers Squib. Dr Leister has more than 25 years of experience in developing protein therapeutics against cancer and inflammation. In his current role, he is responsible for identifying the best technologies and products that are suitable for Bristol Myers Squid.

Dr Jens Bleiel, CEO of Food for Health Ireland, will also address the audience, discussing the role of functional food in the future and the importance of carbohydrates and glycoscience in this area.

“Ireland needs to harness the synergy of existing skills and strengthen it with new talent in order to gain a competitive edge and to remain in the leadership position in this emerging next frontier in life sciences, chemistry, and information science,” claims Professor Joshi.

Professor Joshi has spearheaded Ireland’s standing in the gyclosience field since he became principal investigator with the Science Foundation Ireland funded Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC ) at NUI Galway in 2008.

He also leads the international project GlycoHIT, which aims to uncover the cause for carbohydrate biomarkers in cancer. The GlycoHIT project is involved in the development of innovative technologies that will enable fast and accurate analysis of glycosylation. This involves attaching sugars to proteins and lipids, and can be identified by analysing the blood samples from cancer patients.

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