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Canadian Glycomics Network - GlycoNet

$27.3 million for 2014-20
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Canadian Glycomics Network

Number of partners

Partner contributions
$10.6 million

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

Scientific director
Todd L. Lowary Todd L. Lowary

Executive Director
Elizabeth Nanak Elizabeth Nanak

Board chair
Frank Gleeson Frank Gleeson
President, Gleeson & Associates

Turning carbohydrate research into health solutions

The opportunity

Carbohydrates play a pivotal role in virtually all biological processes, which makes them key to solving many health issues. Glycomics—the study of sugars in biological systems—has led to the commercialization of several carbohydrate-based drugs, including ones that fight influenza, blood clots, diabetes, seizures and migraines. Building on a half-century of glycomics research and a burgeoning biotech sector, Canada is ideally positioned to take advantage of this emerging golden age of glycomics. A national, multidisciplinary effort is now bringing researchers and health scientists together with industry, government and international partners to translate this opportunity into results that improve patient health and grow Canada’s biotech and pharma sectors.

How GlycoNet is seizing the opportunity

TGlycoNet is a one-stop global destination focused on developing new carbohydrate-based drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, in collaboration with academic and industry organizations to address areas of unmet need through applied glycomics research. This national platform supports translational research, protection of intellectual property, novel drug development, company formation and training. The network includes 140 researchers from across Canada who focus on infectious diseases, genetic diseases, diabetes, obesity, chronic disease, new therapeutic proteins and vaccines. GlycoNet provides researchers and industry partners with access to core services in carbohydrate synthesis, complex structure analysis and high-throughput screening of new drug candidates.

Among the results

  • 61 research projects were funded in the following topics, infectious diseases, rare genetic diseases, diabetes and obesity, chronic diseases and, therapeutic proteins and vaccines.
  • One of the GlycoNet projects was recognized by Québec Science as one of the top 10 scientific discoveries in Québec for 2017. The goal of this project is to bring hydrolase therapy to clinical use for the treatment of pulmonary and other nosocomial infections. This therapeutic strategy can be extended to the treatment of other non-pulmonary infections with these organisms, such as burns or wound infections.
  • To date, GlycoNet-funded research has led to the filing of 15 patent applications and to the creation of three startup companies:
    • PanTHERA CryoSolutions provides a much-needed improvement in the cryopreservation of stem cells and tissues.
    •  GlyCa BioSciences will translate and commercialize a potentially transformative liquid biopsy testing platform for prostate and other cancers.
    • 48Hour Discovery, which started as a GlycoNet core service, offers novel molecular discovery services for drug candidates and diagnostics.
  • GlycoNet has increased its international collaborations in glycomics research, trainee research exchanges and core services through its trilateral partnership with Taiwan and Australia. The 2019 Canadian Glycomics Symposium will have a particular focus on this partnership.
  • In terms of training and outreach, GlycoNet has worked to fulfill an unmet need for teachers through its partnership with CMASTE and created bilingual resources for high school students. In addition, GlycoNet Network Investigator, Dr. Chris Phenix, delivered a workshop entitled “Indigenization and Reconciliation in Chemistry Education” at the 2018 Canadian Society for Chemistry Conference in Edmonton.

Connect with GlycoNet


January 23, 2020
December 12, 2019
November 22, 2019
August 16, 2019
January 25, 2018
October 2, 2017
May 20-22, 2020
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HQP launch careers through GlycoNet
February 5, 2019
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Partnering with GlycoNet companies to improve people's quality of life
September 17, 2018
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GlycoNet - Rare Genetic Diseases
January 24, 2018
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GlycoNet – Chronic diseases
November 30, 2017
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GlycoNet - Antimicrobials research
September 19, 2017
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The Secret Life of Carbohydrates
December 14, 2015
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The GlycoNet Story
June 1, 2015
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Jay Ingram - The Potential of Glycomics
May 4, 2015