Research themes

Three interrelated research themes cover the bulk of the research currently undertaken by the Glycobiology and Glycoimmunology research group. Many of our current studies deal with questions and problems associated with Schistosoma and schistosome infections of man, with additional relevance to the glycobiology of many other infectious and non-infectious diseases.

Our studies roughly divide over three main themes

  • Schistosome glycomics: developmental glycosylation and schistosome glycobiology.

At the basis of this work are the Schistosoma life cycles that we maintain in our laboratories, and the strong mass-spectrometry based glycosylation analysis expertise and technology that can be considered as one of the main achievements of the group over the last decade.

  • Glycans as targets of the antibody response, potential vaccine targets

A large portion of the antibody response of helminth-infected hosts is directed against glycan epitopes. Within this theme we analyse antibody responses to specific glycan elements in relation to infection intensity, duration, treatment, susceptibility and resistance, using serum cohorts collected by our collaborators in endemic areas, with the aim of understanding the protective or contra-protective effects of anti-glycan antibodies and identifying vaccine candidates.
These analyses are based on in-house developed glycan microarrays that contain hundreds of different glycan antigens identified and isolated during our glycomics studies.

  • Helminth glycoconjugates in immunopathology and innate immunology

Based on the glycomics data, natural and synthetic glycoconjugates, and a number of in vitro and in vivo models, the role of glycoconjugates in granuloma formation, glycoprotein antigen uptake, and interaction with C-type and S-type lectins of the immune system are investigated.