The Challenges

Glycan biosynthesis is a non-template driven process, unlike DNA and protein synthesis. Glycan structures are also branched, unlike DNA and proteins. These features make oligosaccharide structural determination a challenge due to the myriad possible structures for a given carbohydrate composition.

Empirically determining the mass of an oligosaccharide yields only the composition of a particular glycan, not the actual structure, which would include topology and linkage information. One can make assumptions based on biosynthetic rules, but true de novo structural determination requires more in depth analytical protocols.

Our solutions

Glycan Connections’ founder, Dr. Vernon Reinhold, is a pioneer in the field of mass spectrometric analysis of oligosaccharides. His research groups over the past several decades have applied and developed innovative techniques for the analysis of complex carbohydrate structures.

When the first ion trap mass analyzers were developed in the late nineties, he embraced this tool as the best method for sequencing carbohydrates. Since that time, his research groups have developed and applied new experimental techniques to various types of carbohydrate structural problems, ranging from model organisms, such as Caenorhabditis elegans, to biopharmaceutical glycoprotein products.