GlycoNet Integrated Services awarded $10.68 million investment from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation’s Major Science Initiative Fund

Small Business Canada

EDMONTON, ALBERTA (August 23, 2022) – The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) recently announced its continued support of Canadian glycomics research with an investment of $10.68 million to GlycoNet Integrated Services (GIS) through its Major Science Initiatives Fund.

GIS is the world’s largest and most advanced comprehensive suite of specialized glycomics tools and services. This glycomics “toolbox” uniquely equips academic and industrial researchers with the synthetic and analytical screening technologies needed to undertake world-class glycomics research and technology development. 

“This is an exciting time to be in the field of glycomics,” says Dr. Warren Wakarchuk, Scientific Director of GlycoNet. “Technological advances have allowed glycomics to take a huge leap forward, and the next decade will undoubtedly see explosive growth in the biotechnology and pharma sectors. We are grateful to CFI for giving GlycoNet Integrated Services the ability to provide these tools and support Canadian glycomics research that seeks to develop solutions to health and environmental concerns.”

Glycomics is an interdisciplinary science focusing on the role of glycans (sugars or carbohydrates) in biological ecosystems. In all living organisms, glycans are vital to biological processes. For example, the COVID-19 virus uses its spike protein to attack human cells through proteins and lipids that carry glycans while evading our immune systems. How we fight infection, how our bodies heal, how our immune systems protect us, and how our agricultural crops resist drought and pests are all precisely controlled by glycans.

“Over the last few years, the study of glycans has become a quickly growing and increasingly crucial field as it holds important potential for human health and biotechnology. By supporting GlycoNet Integrated Services, the Canada Foundation for Innovation is proud to invest in a critical network of infrastructure that facilitates world-class glycomics work and has made Canada an international leader in glycoscience,” says Dr. Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation.

GIS supports both fundamental research and translational research that advances discoveries into applied and commercial outcomes. For example, GIS has supported the development of a glycomics-based technology for advanced disease-modifying therapies and tools to monitor the progression of Parkinson’s disease directly in living cells derived from patients.

“The ability to monitor the progression of Parkinson’s disease could lead to a major breakthrough in the treatment and management of the disease. GlycoNet’s advances in this area have attracted the interest of several pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies,” says Dr. Elizabeth Nanak, Chief Executive Officer of GlycoNet.

“This is an example of a research and development program with significant socioeconomic impact that GlycoNet was able to support because of the cutting-edge glycomics tools provided by GlycoNet Integrated Services,” continues Dr. Nanak. “With CFI’s investment in GIS, GlycoNet now has the critical ‘toolbox’ it needs to further support glycomics research in many of Canada’s strategic industrial sectors, including human and animal health, agriculture, and resource management.”

At a glance: GlycoNet Integrated Services

  • World’s largest and most advanced suite of specialized glycomics tools and services enabling groundbreaking research
  • One-stop access to glycomics tools, specialized expertise and unique infrastructure for Canadian researchers and companies
  • Distributed across seven Canadian institutions and leverages $35 million in federal and provincial infrastructure investment
  • Coordinates five specialized types of glycomics services: Glycan–Ligand Screening and Discovery, Glycan Analyses, Carbohydrate Synthesis, Drug Discovery & High-Throughput Screening (HTS) and Molecular Glycobiology & Glycoengineering

About GlycoNet

Note: GlycoNet is the network under which GlycoNet Integrated Services (GIS) operates. GlycoNet is advancing research, innovation, and training in glycomics to improve the quality of life of Canadians. GlycoNet is a pan-Canadian research network consisting of 175 researchers in 35 institutions across the country participating in 125 funded projects. GlycoNet researchers use the study of carbohydrates (sugars) in living cells to find solutions to unmet health needs through the development of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics. GlycoNet focuses on four major research areas: cancer, chronic diseases, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. GlycoNet is also a leader in training the next generation of glycoscientists and promoting collaboration and advancement in glycomics research. Learn more on our website.

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