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SFU research not avoiding carbs

By Stefania Seccia

Simon Fraser University chemistry professor David Vocadlo is also a Canada research chair in chemical glycobiology. 
(Photo submitted)

Simon Fraser University chemistry professor David Vocadlo is also a Canada research chair in chemical glycobiology. (Photo submitted)

Simon Fraser University is part of a new national research hub studying glycomics to deliver future solutions to human health problems such as influenza, genetic diseases and diabetes.

Six SFU scientists join nearly 60 others across Canada in the Canadian Glycomics Network (GlycoNet), which received $27.3 million in federal funding recently to help link academics, government and industry partners.

The study of glycomics evaluates the function carbohydrates (sugar) plays in biological systems using chemistry and biochemistry. Carbohydrates are more than an energy source and play key roles in cell and organism biology, according to David Vocadlo, SFU chemistry professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Chemical Glycobiology.

“A lot of people have heard of genomics, but glycomics is not as well known,” he said. “And really that reflects the fact that the tools available are historically not as advanced.”

The research currently underway in his lab includes carbohydrate-processing enzymes and ways to control them.

Vocadlo said the therapeutics and diagnostics the study of glycomics is capable of will more quickly become commercially available.

“We’re interested in exploring these glycomics technologies in areas of neurodegenerative disease as well as cancer,” he said.

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