Carbohydrates displayed on the surface of cells play critical roles in cell-cell recognition, adhesion, signaling between cells, and as markers for disease progression. Neural cells for instance use carbohydrates to facilitate development and regeneration and viruses recognize carbohydrates to gain entry into host cells. Identification of the specific saccharides involved in these processes is important to better understand cell-cell recognition at the molecular level and to aid the design of therapeutics and diagnostic tools.
Testing the interaction between bacteria and carbohydrates
So-called microarrays have proven to be a versatile technique in biology, chemistry and medicine to rapidly asses the interactions of ligands and analytes. Researchers of the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry have demonstrated that interactions of bacteria to carbohydrates can also be probed in a microarray format. These results published in the current issue of the scientific magazine “Chemistry & Biology” suggest that microarrays are a general platform to study the carbohydrate-cell interactions. The researchers have also expanded the scope of these methods to include the detection of pathogens within complex mixtures, e.g. blood. Pathogens captured by the arrays can be cultured and further tested for antibacterial susceptibility. It is likely that these assays will allow for rapid screening and testing of pathogens and in uncovering new roles for carbohydrates in cellular biology.
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