Congratulations to Dr. Gregory Hudalla, assistant professor in the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, for co-authoring a review article “Glycomaterials for immunomodulation, immunotherapy and infection prophylaxis,” which was featured on the front cover of the ninth issue of Journal of Materials Chemistry B.
Antonietta Restuccia and Margaret M. Fettis, both UF BME Ph.D. students in Dr. Hudalla’s lab, co-authored the review article which begins by highlighting the integral role of carbohydrates in innate and adaptive immunity, and provides a detailed survey of emerging synthetic materials modified with carbohydrates (‘glycomaterials’) to harness their biological activity.
Carbohydrates present on the surface of cells or within the extracellular matrix can bind to various soluble and membrane proteins, and these highly specific molecular interactions are important regulators of various immune-related processes, such as inflammation, adaptive memory and tolerance. The article surveys major on-going research efforts to develop glycomaterials that can engage the immune system to prevent or treat diseases. For instance, emphasis is placed on glycomaterials that can inhibit T cell apoptosis, establish antigen-specific tolerance, suppress inflammation, and inhibit viral entry into host cells by modulating the biological activity of carbohydrate-binding proteins. Also, this report surveys recent successes in using glycomaterials as both vaccines to raise adaptive immunity against tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens, and as diagnostic tools to study anti-carbohydrate immunity.
Throughout the article, challenges associated with glycomaterials design and efficacy are discussed, which include the complexity of carbohydrate synthesis, achieving selective targeting of particular carbohydrate-binding proteins, poor carbohydrate stability due to enzymatic degradation, and low protein-carbohydrate binding affinities. They emphasize key features that prove to be critical when engineering glycomaterials, for example, multivalent carbohydrate display, carbohydrate valency, ligand flexibility and availability.
The Journal of Materials Chemistry B is part of the Royal Society of Chemistry Publishing, focusing on the materials field. The journal is interdisciplinary, publishing work of international significance on all aspects of materials chemistry related to biology and medicine.