Place of glycomics among other -omics

During past decades exciting findings were revealed thank to genomics and proteomic and the progress in these two fields left human glycome and the field of glycomics far behind. First signs of glycan (complex sugar attached to proteins and lipids) importance started to emerge in 1985, when it was found out that changes in the glycan composition of human antibodies are behind switch of their activity from anti-inflammatory to pro-inflammatory. The „sweet“ coating affects molecular properties of biomolecules dramatically. The size of the human proteome is still not precisely known, but it is estimated that the number of glycosylated proteins might be up to 70-80%.

Analysis of glycans

Several methods have been used to crack the glycocode including mass spectrometry, chromatography and electrophoresis. Full analytical potential of these instrumental methods can be exploited only after glycan release from the protein backbone. There are of course other methods involving glycan-binding proteins (antibodies and mainly lectins), which can provide information about terminal sugars of glycoproteins in a direct way without a need for release of the glycan (in situ monitoring of glycan structures).

Our approach

In our group, we focus on the fabrication of different nanostructured surfaces with tailored properties (control of surface density, orientation, antifouling properties, defined thickness, …) for subsequent application in biosensor and biochip technology. Quite a low specificity of lectins can limit their analytical utility, but integration of panel/array of lectins in the form of biochips and biosensors has proved robustness for analysis of diseases with unknown specific biomarkers or for discovery of new potent disease biomarkers.

Integration of lectins with a highly sensitive electroanalytical methods and modern nanomaterials is behind our current developments of a highly sensitive and robust biosensors and biochips. The sensitivity of analysis is our main goal, since many disease treatment therapies, including various forms of cancer, rely on early diagnosis of the disease. Moreover, better understanding of the role of glycosylation in various physiological and pathological processes can help to engineer novel drugs, taking into account invasion mechanisms of several pathogens, like HIV virus and many bacteria.

Our mission

Our group aims to develop various types of biosensors and biochips for better understanding how the glycocode is read with subsequent application of such knowledge in construction of robust, cheap and sensitive biosensors/biochips applicable in disease analysis and diagnostics. This will be done with the aid of the state-of-the-art infrastructure applied for characterisation of our nanoscale patterned surfaces, for optimisation of step-by-step formation of such biodevices and finally for validation of their analytical performance.

(For more information about the glycomics and lectin diagnostics, a reader is advised to read our publications available on this site in the „Publications“ section)