chapter  B7
2 Pages

Carbohydrates

WithGraham Patrick

Carbohydrates have generally been neglected as drug targets. Carbohydrates have many different roles, but those present on the surface of cell membranes are of most interest. Carbohydrates are ideally suited for such a role since large variations in structure are possible by linking different sugar monomers together in different ways. Cell surface carbohydrates could be potential targets for the treatment of a number of diseases including cancer, stroke, autoimmune disease, inflammation, arthritis, thrombosis, and genetic disease. Antibodies could also be used to target anticancer drugs more specifically to tumor cells. It is important to identify tumor-specific antigens before attempting any of the antibody strategies mentioned. The invading bacterium or virus then adheres to the host cell initiating the process of infection. Bacteria also have their own carbohydrate antigens, which allow the prospect of carbohydrate-based antibacterial vaccines. Inhibiting this process could lead to novel anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic agents.