Leiden Parasite Glycobiology 

The overall aim of our research is to develop intervention tools and strategies against infectious and inflammatory diseases using glycobiological approaches. 

All organisms - host or pathogen - express carbohydrate chains (glycans) on their glycoproteins and glycolipids. Cell surfaces are covered with a dense layer of glycoconjugates, and secretions are full of glycosylated proteins. Glycosylation is highly diverse and dynamic. Glycan sequences differ between proteins, cells and organisms. Specific glycans form ligands for glycan-binding proteins on cells and in serum, and together they form partners in many molecular recognition events. 

Pathogens express a range of immunogenic glycans that are crucial to establishing or maintaining infection of the host by the induction or modulation of specific immune responses, or simply by mediating specific adhesion events.  These properties are an ideal basis for glycans to be explored and exploited for the development of vaccines, immuno-therapeutics and diagnostics.

A major focus of our research is to understand how glycosylation plays a role in host-pathogen interactions, with a special interest in schistosomiasis and other parasitic helminth infections. Parasitic helminths are masters in producing glycans that induce or mediate host immune responses of inflammatory, modulatory and regulatory nature.

For more specific information on current projects of the section go to Research themes.