Edible polysaccharides from plants and microbes have attracted attention because of their potential functions to improve our health. Although several polysaccharide products have been commercialized, the mechanism by which such polysaccharides benefit our health is yet unclear. I hypothesize that such polysaccharides may modulate the immune function through interaction with the glycan-binding protein (GBP) receptors on immune cells.
To prove the hypothesis, I will take a multidisciplinary approach involving immunology and biology of carbohydrates (glycobiology). My aims are: (1) to evaluate the effect of polysaccharides on primary human and mouse immune cells; (2) to analyse the interaction between polysaccharides and the immune cells in vivo by state-of-the-art flow cytometry; (3) to identify the GBP partner for each polysaccharide by a facile reporter assay system. This research will deliver crucial knowledge on how polysaccharides function, and the potential impacts are far-reaching as the results will inform the design, development and efficacy-testing of potent novel carbohydrate-based foods, therapeutics and healthcare products.
Since I am building my independent research group at the host, Institute for Food Research in UK, I will have outstanding opportunities to transfer my knowledge and expertise from Japan and the USA to the UK and Europe. My scientific expertise and experimental approaches in biology of carbohydrates (glycobiology) and immunology will be integrated through proactive collaboration with other groups, mentoring young scientists, presenting at scientific conferences, publications and through public outreach activities.
Mutual transfer of knowledge will build a dynamic multidisciplinary research platform to elucidate the bioactivity of polysaccharides in the immune system. Such a new platform will be integrated to form long-term collaborations between the EU, Japan and USA, enhancing European excellence and competitiveness.
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