Leiden University Fellow
Project: “Automated synthesis of C-type lectin ligands”
The complexity of oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates – and their biological mode of action – originates from the immensely diverse structural variety in carbohydrate monomers and the way that they are interconnected. The structural differences of the carbohydrate mono- and oligomers have a major impact on their chemistry and biology. Although we are now capable of synthesizing very complex oligosaccharides, a thorough understanding on the stereoselective construction of glycosidic bonds is still lacking and this is one of the focal points of our research. We aim to develop robust stereoselective glycosylation procedures and unravel their mechanistic pathways, using experimental as well as theoretical approaches. The synthetic insights are used in the construction of oligosaccharide libraries employing solution phase chemistry as well as automated solid phase assembly techniques. The oligosaccharides are being used in biochemical studies to unravel their mode of action at the molecular level, for example in the area of molecular immunology, where we investigate how carbohydrate-based molecules interact with our immune system. Well-defined single molecules are used as synthetic antigens or adjuvants (molecules that boost our immune system) to interact with specific players of the immune system. With this knowledge we generate synthetic vaccines with tailor made properties.