The Institute for Structural and Functional Glycobiology is a research institute entirely dedicated to GlycoSciences that cover the study of carbohydrates (also called sugars). Carbohydrates are the most abundant biological molecules on Earth and represent essential building blocks for life. They are not only the major compounds of food and the main source of energy and bio-based materials, but also key molecules involved in a multitude of biological processes and the origin of many drugs. This great diversity explains the dynamism and growth of this field of exploration from which many innovations capable of responding to society's challenges are emerging. Carbohydrates are responsible for a myriad of biological functions affecting the health and well-being of humans and other living organisms and their natural environment both on land and in the sea. Because of their structural complexity, explored by recent glycomics approaches, they represent a biological code that governs cell fates (migration, interaction, development, ...). They are also involved in numerous pathologies (cancer, infection, inflammation, etc.). Carbohydrates are also the central constituents of plant walls, such as cellulose, hemicelluloses and pectins, and represent an immense source of bio-sourced materials. Those produced by algae and bacteria have properties that are sought after for cosmetic and therapeutic applications.
What are the objectives of UGSF?
UGSF strongly promotes is a highly pluri-disciplinary research that involves scientists from a wide variety of different fields including biochemistry, chemistry, computational sciences, physiology, developmental biology, genetics, microbiology… In this pluri-disciplinary context, the overall objective of UGSF is to integrate specific know-how in GlycoScience to bring a better comprehension of the structure to functions relationships of complex carbohydrates. Its researchers are following numerous projects based on the biology and chemistry of carbohydrates among which:
- Elucidating infection mechanisms by pathogenic micro-organisms and developing anti-infectious molecules ;
- Understanding the role of glycans in the regulation of cellular functions and physiological functions (inflammation, intercellular communication, organogenesis…) ;
- Understanding the metabolic diseases linked to carbohydrates and proposing diagnostic and remediating tools ;
- Deciphering the synthesis and degradation pathways of plant polysaccharides ;
- Delineating the evolution of enzymes involved in the metabolism of complex carbohydrates