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Through the Glycoscience Program, the National Institute of Health will contribute $10 million to advance the study of carbohydrates and the compounds that interact with them.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on Oct. 5, 2015 that it will fund four science-based programs that will “provide catalytic support to areas of research that no one institute or center at NIH would be able to address on its own,” according to a statement from James M. Anderson, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives. The monies will come from the NIH Common Fund and total more than $54 million.
While the funds will be allotted to four programs focusing on a range of diverse biomedical topics (behavior change, nuclear organization, and a genetic sequencing database for pediatric cancer patients), the program that seems especially relevant to the bioprocessing community is the Glycoscience Program, which will address the study of proteins and lipids that have glycoproteins attached to them. The NIH will contribute $10 million to 23 research teams so that they can find solutions to easily analyze, synthesize, and characterize glycans. The variation in glycosylation profiles of therapeutic glycoproteins remains a major challenge to the industry, and the available technologies used to characterize glycoforms vary in accuracy, according to an article in BioPharm International by Jennifer Fournier of Waters Corporation. Concerns also exist with the analysis of glycans at various testing facilities, she says, as tests in different locations using disparate methods can produce variable results.
So far, a bulk of the research funds have been awarded to academic universities, with the exception of Batelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories, which received a grant to study “A hybrid IMS-MS platform for ultrasensitive and high-resolution glycan analysis,” and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which was awarded a grant to study the synthesis of glycosulfopeptides and related bioconjugates.