Glycans as Biomarkers: Status and Perspectives

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Glycans as Biomarkers: Status and Perspectives

Protein glycosylation is a ubiquitous and complex co- and post-translational modification leading to glycan formation, i.e. oligosaccharide chains covalently attached to peptide backbones. The significance of changes in glycosylation for the beginning, progress and outcome of different human diseases is widely recognized. Thus, glycans are considered as unique structures to diagnose, predict susceptibility to and monitor the progression of disease. In the »omics« era, the glycome, a glycan analogue of the proteome and genome, holds considerable promise as a source of new biomarkers. In the design of a strategy for biomarker discovery, new principles and platforms for the analysis of relatively small amounts of numerous glycoproteins are needed. Emerging glycomics technologies comprising different types of mass spectrometry and affinity-based arrays are next in line to deliver new analytical procedures in the field of biomarkers. Screening different types of glycomolecules, selection of differentially expressed components, their enrichment and purification or identification are the most challenging parts of experimental and clinical glycoproteomics. This requires large-scale technologies enabling high sensitivity, proper standardization and validation of the methods to be used. Further progress in the field of applied glycoscience requires an integrated systematic approach in order to explore properly all opportunities for disease diagnosis.

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