Research objectives and content
The aims of this proposal is to study the molecular basis of carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions recently proposed as mechanism for adhesion and recognition of normal and tumoral cells. Specific types of glycosphingolipids (GSL) and acidic proteoglycans are involved in this process. The research project will incorporate: (a) The synthesis of oligosacharides, epitopes in the cell adhesion process in sponges. (b) Determination of the tridimensional structure by NMR and molecular simulations. (c) Physical-organic studies on relevants interactions. (d) Studies of adhesion by atom force microscopy. This work is a part of a more ambitious programme on the molecular basis of important natural processes of carbohydrate recognition through investigations on synthetic model and natural systems. The work should lead to a better understanding of carbohydrate recognition for influencing biological processes. Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
Synthetic skills and understanding of intermolecular interactions are specially important in this area of biological chemistry. A young scientist involved in this programme will have the opportunity to be trained in a multidisciplinar research area.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
Tumor-associated GSL antigens have been used in the development of antitumoral vaccines. New structures of glycosphingolipids and oligosacharides involved in adhesion process are, therefore, targets for cancer therapy and control of cell proliferation. Actually, the host institution has an industrial collaboration in research in a related area of the project.