IBCarb will support the development of novel glycoengineering approaches for the preparation and quality control of biopharmaceuticals, the identification of glycobiomarkers supporting the development of targeted diagnostics, and novel approaches to antibiotics and their alternatives.


A number of challenges in ‘Health’ that IBCarb will seek to address have already been identified. This list is not exclusive and more challenges will be identified at future IBCarb events.

Improved methods for the synthesis and quality control of biopharmaceutical production

An understanding of the N-linked glycosylation of biologics and of how to manipulate it is of paramount importance for the biopharmaceutical sector given that approximately 40% of all approved therapeutic proteins and eight of the top ten selling biologics of 2010 (generating over $35 billion in annual sales) contain N-linked oligosaccharides. The current challenges are in achieving and controlling a uniform and targeted glycan profile in the development and production stages that results in increased biotherapeutic efficacy and in vivo product characteristics. Glycoengineering of host cell lines and process optimisation to achieve higher efficacy and tight quality control of glycoprotein production will be important for current and future products. (see also challenges in ‘Tools’)

Glycobiomarkers for Personalised Medicine

The set of cell surface carbohydrates in serum and tissue varies significantly between individuals and is highly dynamic within each person, changing with disease development, in particular cancer. Identification of glycobiomarkers provides the opportunity in combination with existing biomarkers to achieve significantly increased diagnosis specificity and sensitivity contributing to the development of more effective personalised medicines.

Targeting cell surface carbohydrate recognition in infectious diseases

Carbohydrate-protein interactions are important targets for anti-infective therapeutics. Molecular understanding of these interactions and rational drug design have proven successful (e.g. Relenza against flu virus) and will continue to provide important opportunities for fighting infectious diseases.