Glycans, or complex sugars, cover the surfaces of our cells and play a key role in biological processes ranging from interacting with other cells to recognizing and fighting pathogens. A new informatics portal is helping to illuminate the world of glycoscience:
UGA partnered with George Washington University to create GlyGen (glygen.org), a glycoscience informatics portal funded by a $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. GlyGen brings disparate information together in a unified way, reducing the learning curve for those new to glycoscience.
It’s a challenging project, according to UGA’s William York, co-principal investigator.
“We’re integrating different types of multidisciplinary information that’s stored in different places and making it available to scientists in ways that allow them to understand the relationships that exist,” said York, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and member of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.
More powerful informatics tools are pushing scientists together in pursuit of exploring the role of complex compounds like glycans. GlyGen is a great example, one that may hold the key to unlocking future cures and treatments.