Why study Glycosaminoglycans?
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGS) are a class of information-rich polysaccharides of considerable importance in many biological processes such as the regulation of cell growth and differentiation, the control of blood fluidity and the metabolism of lipoproteins. The molecular architecture, elasticity and cell adhesion properties of the extracellular matrix are dependent on the interactions of structural proteins (e.g. collagens, fibronectin and fibrillin) with specific types of GAG. GAGS are strongly implicated in inflammation, degenerative diseases, malignancy, microbial and parasitic infections and age-related neural pathologies including Alzheimer’s disease. It is thus self evident that research on the structure, binding properties and cellular effects of GAGS will lead to new and fundamental insights in cell and molecular biology and may shed light on pathological mechanisms in human disease with the fascinating prospect of the emergence of GAG based therapies.