Carbohydrates (or glycans) play roles in a wide range of biological functions and disease processes. Nearly all aspects of biology, including: a) protein folding; b) cell adhesion and trafficking; c) cell signaling, fertilization and embryogenesis; and d) pathogen recognition and immune responses (both innate and adaptive) are affected by glycan-mediated events. While the roles of glycans in normal and disease processes are extensive, the ability of investigators to decipher the role(s) of glycans in these processes is severely limited by the availability of robust, affordable, and accessible chemical libraries, tools, and technologies to determine the biochemical basis of glycan–protein and glycan-lipid interactions, and to integrate this information with other platforms. Currently, the synthesis of carbohydrates and the analysis of glycans and their binding proteins (lectins) are carried out by a small cadre of highly specialized investigators with the requisite sophisticated, analytical equipment to perform these tasks. Straightforward and accessible methods and tools for analyzing carbohydrates and determining their functions are needed. This small business program complements the Common Fund (CF) program “Accelerating Translation of Glycoscience: Integration and Accessibility,” launched in FY2015, which aims to develop accessible and affordable new tools and technologies for studying carbohydrates that will enable researchers in all biomedical fields to dramatically advance our understanding of the roles of these complex molecules in health and disease. This SBIR FOA thus encourages new, more easily accessible tools, reagents, and technologies to facilitate the identification, tracking, manipulation, and analysis of glycans with their biological binding partners, and for determination of biological function(s).
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