Name(s) of Faculty Adviser/Mentor

Alexei Demchenko

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Carbohydrates (sugars or glycans) are involved in many processes and are referred to as the “essential molecules of life.” Our life begins with fertilization, which takes place via carbohydrate-protein recognition. Our journey with sugars continues with human milk that becomes the ideal first food for babies. Oligosaccharides present in human milk (HMOs) can provide prebiotic effects, function as antimicrobial agents, and provide necessary nutrients for the development of the brain and cognition of infants. Throughout our lifetime, sugars are involved in many upkeeping processes and defensive mechanisms including joint lubrication, cell growth, antigenic determination, anti-inflammation, immune response. Presented herein is the synthesis of two different families of building blocks. The first one will be used for the synthesis of HMOs. Thanks to the explosive growth of glycomics, we already know that HMOs are a unique and diverse family of glycans, but our understanding of the HMO function is far from complete. Adding HMOs to infant formulas could be beneficial for the infant’s health, but HMOs are challenging to produce and purify. The synthesized molecules will help to investigate the exact roles of individual HMOs which remain largely unknown. The second family of building blocks will be used for the synthesis of high mannose N-glycans that are involved in many fundamental processes. The synthesized molecules will aid our collaborative efforts dedicated to understanding the roles of N-glycans in mediation of the pathogenesis of cancers, AIDS, and other diseases.

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Chemistry Commons