Research Program

Research Program

The scientists of the "Biomolecular Systems" department have developed automated methods for the synthesis of sugar chains of up to 150-mers. Besides sucrose (household sugar) and starch, which provide the organism with energy and are used by plants as energy stores, very complex sugar molecules are also involved in many biological processes. They cover all cells of the human body and play a decisive role in the molecular recognition of cell surfaces and thus in infections, immune reactions and cancer metastases. Complex sugars are ubiquitous as cell coatings in nature and can therefore also be used for the development of vaccines against bacteria and parasites. Over the past 20 years, the great importance of sugars on the surfaces of cells for biology and medicine has been recognised.

With the help of automated synthesis, biologically relevant carbohydrates can be produced in larger quantities for biological, pharmaceutical and medical research. Automated carbohydrate synthesis has created the prerequisites for the further and new development of sugar-based drugs and vaccines, but also completely new materials.

The core interests our research program currently address the following areas:

Automated oligosaccharide synthesis

  • New protecting groups
  • Understanding glycosylation reactions better
  • New linkers for solid phase carbohydrate synthesis
  • Assembly of complex structures (in particular N-Glycans, O-Glycans)
  • Novel instrumentation for automated glycan assembly
    Group members

Total Synthesis of Biologically Important Oligosaccharides

  • Tumor-associated antigens
  • Bacterial cell-surface antigens
  • N-linked glycoproteins 
    Group members

Chemical Synthesis and Biochemistry of Proteoglycans

  • Modular synthesis of heparin/heparan sulfates
  • Creation of heparin microarray
  • Optimization of the building blocks synthesis
  • Study of the SAR (structure-activity relationship) and the interactions between Proteoglycans and proteins
  • Automated synthesis of heparin fragments

Total Synthesis and Biological Activity of Glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs)

  • Total synthesis of GPIs
  • Elucidation of the biosynthesis of GPI
  • Immunological response to synthetic GPIs
    Group members

Development of Cabohydrate-based Vaccines

  • Synthetic Steptococcus pneumoniae vaccine
  • Synthetic Klebsiella pneumoniae vaccine
  • Synthetic Steptococcus suis vaccine
  • Many other confidential targets
    Group members

Continuous Flow Organic Synthesis

  • Automated Synthesis in continuous flow reactors
  • Photochemistry in continuous flow
  • Catalysis in continuous flow
  • Synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients
    Group members

Carbohydrate Microarrays

Carbohydrate Materials

  • Understanding cellulose and chitin structure
  • Creating novel carbohydrate materials
    Group members
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