Researchers and Industry Convene for Glycosience Event at NUI Galway

Professor Lokesh Joshi
Oct 17 2012 Posted: 09:54 IST

Over 150 delegates are expected at the 5th Annual GlycoScience Ireland meeting, hosted by NUI Galway, on Friday, 19 October. 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.

Participants from research organisations, biopharmaceutical companies and areas including medical diagnostics and functional foods are expected to attend. The next generation of glycotechnologies will be discussed during the conference, and the potential of the field to impact the Irish biosciences industry will be explored.

Through various events and initiatives, GlycoScience Ireland brings together academic, industrial and clinical researchers to advance fundamental research and to develop 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”, he explains, “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. Professor Cummings 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 over 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 future and the importance of carbohydrates and glycoscience in this area.

“With the global competition in biotechnology and biopharmaceutical research continually shifting, 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.

Professor Joshi also leads the international project GlycoHIT, which 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.


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