LA JOLLA, CA / ACCESSWIRE / June 4, 2019 / One of the most important classes of biomolecules, oligosaccharides are involved in a variety of biochemical processes, including cell differentiation, proliferation and adhesion, inflammation and immune responses. However, it is often difficult or even impossible to isolate these carbohydrate structures from natural sources, and as a result chemical synthesis has been utilized as a powerful tool in order to furnish sufficient amounts of pure oligosaccharides for biological evaluation and vaccine production. In an effort to improve upon the classical solution phase synthesis, which is a time-consuming task that often requires a special strategy for each molecule, scientists like Chi-Huey Wong are studying automated synthetic methods that can help speed up the pace of carbohydrate research by improving researchers' access to synthetic glycans.
Wong explained that alternative approaches have been investigated for some time now, beginning with solid phase synthesis, which was first reported on by Peter Seeberger in 2001. These early automated syntheses were performed successfully in a modified ABI peptide synthesizer with features adapted for carbohydrate chemistry, and with the help of that setup, it became clear that the process reduced the expenditure of time dramatically. Shortly thereafter, a fully automated carbohydrate synthesizer was developed, and the device proved beyond useful in obtaining complex and biologically relevant carbohydrate structures. Today, with the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans and other oligosaccharides continuing to be one of the greatest challenges for carbohydrate chemists, the automated concept continues to be studied and improved upon.
Another notable pioneer in glycoscience research, Chi-Huey Wong developed the first enzymatic method for the large-scale synthesis of oligosaccharides and glycoproteins and also the first programmable automated synthesis. "I believe we were the first to publish the programmable one-pot synthesis of oligosaccharides in 1998," says Wong, who is currently Scripps Family Chair Professor of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. He also holds a joint appointment as distinguished research fellow at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. "This is the first kind of automated synthesis, as it involved the use of a computer program (designed by AI and machine learning) to guide the synthesis. The most recent publications from our group in this area includeis the "Hierarchical and programmable one-pot synthesis of oligosaccharides" published in Nature Communication (2018, 9, 5202) and 'Programmable one-pot synthesis of heparin pentasaccharides enabling access to regiodefined sulfate derivateves' which was published in Chemical Science."
Chi-Huey Wong is a Taiwanese-born American chemist known for his expertise in bioorganic and synthetic chemistry, especially in regards to carbohydrates and chemical biology. He was elected as a member of Taiwan's Academia Sinica in 1994, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996, and the United States National Academy of Sciences in 2002 due to his research achievements. As a result of his development of carbohydrate-based vaccines for the treatment of breast cancer and other infectious diseases, homogeneous antibody glycoforms as better therapeutics and improved methods for carbohydrate and glycoprotein synthesis, Wong was awarded The American Chemical Society Award for Creaticve Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry in 2005, the F.A. Cotton Medal for Excellence in Chemical Research in 2008, the American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Award in 2012, and The Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 2014.
Scripps Research Institute Chemist Chi-Huey Wong Wins Prestigious Wolf Prize: https://www.scripps.edu/news-and-events/press-room/2014/20140124wong.html
ChemBioChem: Chi-Huey Wong's 70th birthday - Wiley Online Library: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/toc/10.1002/(ISSN)1439-7633.ChiHueyWong
SOURCE: Chi-Huey Wong