The development of the first automated oligosaccharide synthesizer, along with new methods for screening carbohydrate ligand arrays is likely to lead to a rapid acceleration in both our ability to synthesize these molecules, and understand the roles of oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates in biology. Consequently we may uncover new avenues for therapeutic intervention more rapidly. These recent developments are very important since our understanding of the role of glycoconjugates in nature has traditionally fallen far behind that of the other biopolymers such as proteins and nucleic acids as the formation of, for example, glycosylated proteins is not template driven. The chemical synthesis of oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates has provided us with new potential cancer vaccines, antibiotics and new biotechnological tools. Glycobiologists have employed many such tools to uncover new signalling roles for oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates. In this review we aim to highlight some emerging methods for glycoconjugate assembly and screening, and discuss innovative approaches to glycoconjugate based drug design and delivery, all of which are, and will continue to be, fruitful avenues for medicinal chemistry research.
Keywords: oligosaccharides, glycoconjugate therapeutics, synthesis, screening, vaccines, metabolism
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