Researchers Make First Sugar Arrays

By Jason Socrates Bardi

For the last several years, high-throughput technologies like gene microarrays—the "chips" that combine thousands of distinct sequences of RNA on a microtiter plate—have allowed researchers to screen whole cells and tissues for particular DNA, RNA, and protein sequences.

However, the same thing is not so easy to do when the sequences are carbohydrates rather than nucleic acids. But while sugar microarrays have been difficult to make, such a technology is highly desirable because more than half of all the proteins in the human body have carbohydrate molecules attached, and sugar microarrays would help scientists identify sugar ligands and receptors and screen inhibitors of sugar-protein and sugar-RNA interactions.

Now a team of scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has succeeded in making the first microtiter arrays of carbohydrate molecules. In an article published last month by the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Professor Chi-Huey Wong and his colleagues report the successful synthesis and attachment of oligosaccharides to a microtiter plate. Once attached, the oligosaccharides were stable and suitable for biological screening.

With this breakthrough, combined with other technologies, such as Wong's one-pot method for the rapid synthesis of oligosaccharides, the development of sugar arrays for high-throughput screening and drug discovery is now possible.

To read the article, "Synthesis of Sugar Arrays in Microtiter Plate" by Fabio Fazio, Marian C. Bryan, Ola Blixt, James C. Paulson, and Chi-Huey Wong, please see: