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GlycoNet and Partners Invest $6.5 Million in Carbohydrate Research with One Health Focus

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GlycoNet, one of the world’s leaders in glycomics research and discovery, announced a $2.46 million investment for 21 glycomics projects across Canada. Industry collaborators, health foundations and business partners are also co-investing $4 million, bringing the total funding to almost $6.5 million. This funding will support research critical to improving the health of humans, animals, and the environment.

“As the study of carbohydrates, known as glycomics, continues to rapidly improve our understanding of biological systems, our research and collaboration have grown to focus on One Health, which recognizes the interconnections among people, animals, and the environment,” says Elizabeth Nanak, CEO, GlycoNet. “Our funding will further the development of made-in-Canada health solutions while building a sustainable, diverse bioeconomy, through advancing Canadian glycomics research, commercialization, and training of top talent.”

One of the funded initiatives is advancing a carbohydrate-based “cage” technology that enables anti-inflammatory drugs to be delivered more efficiently to the lower gastrointestinal tract, reducing the potential for side effects. Dr. Harry Brumer at the University of British Columbia is leading the team developing this technology, which could be used to improve the treatment of lower gut diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease—a condition that affects 300,000 Canadians (Crohn’s and Colitis Canada).

“Support from GlycoNet and other partners has been invaluable to enable us to build a diverse team of chemists, microbiologists, and clinical scientists across different provinces to accelerate technology development toward translation,” says Brumer.

Further, the announced funding will support a project set to develop a carbohydrate-based vaccine to protect pigs against the infection caused byStreptococcus suis, a common cause of severe disease and death in piglets. Dr. Mariela Segura, who is leading the project at the University of Montreal, anticipates that the vaccine will provide an alternative to the use of antimicrobials, helping combat the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance, while also supporting the Canadian economy. Across the country, more than 7,000 pig farms contribute to the creation of tens of thousands of jobs and a resulting economic output of $23.8 billion (Canadian Pork Council).

This investment is also funding research to develop innovative biomarkers for measuring the health status of ocean food resources in the context of climate change. The research led by Dr. Yves St-Pierre at Institut national de la recherche scientifique involves integrating our knowledge of carbohydrates in biological processes to enhance the analysis of samples collected from mussels and fish.

“With climate change putting continuous pressure on marine resources, it is increasingly important that we have sensitive and predictive biomarkers to help with routine monitoring of marine resources,” says St-Pierre. “Changes in the health of ocean food sources have profound impacts in terms of food safety, as well as economical and social consequences for local fishing communities or northern communities.”

Mobilizing knowledge, expertise and collaborations in the study of carbohydrates opens new doors to understanding the relationships that underpin human, animal and environmental health. This funding will enable researchers to develop made-in-Canada One Health solutions, while also yielding the creation of new companies, jobs and economic growth.

Quick Facts

  • Glycomics is the study of carbohydrates or sugars (called glycans) in all living organisms.
  • Today’s announcement is for $2.46 million in funding for glycomics research plus $4 million in co-funding from research partners and industry collaborators across Canada.
  • Since 2015, GlycoNet has invested $32 million from the federal Network of Centres of Excellence program and leveraged $39 million of partner funding into R&D, trained over 590 highly qualified personnel and has supported the start-up of 5 new Canadian companies.

Learn more here about the projects receiving funding.

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