Why is glycomics so neglected?

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  • Thread starter gravenewworld
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In summary: I don't think the names of fields are there for some ego inflating segmentation. They are there to group different approaches.
  • #1
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there is a huge push for genomics and proteomics these days, but how come you almost never hear anything about glycomics? The genome relies solely on 4 base pairs for diversity and proteins 20 amino acids, however, glycobiology rests on 32 known analogs of sugars! Not only that, sugars are not attached to each other linearly, they form very complex branching patterns on the surface of cells that control everything from cell-cell communication to adherence and stem cell differentiation. What is needed to advance this field further? The genome, I feel, is NOT the be all and end all, in fact, glycobiology could play just as much of an important role with regards to how cells behave, if not more. What is taking so long for researchers to flock to this field?
 
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  • #2
We don't have to tools yet to adequately address many of the open questions in glycobiology. As you mentioned, the linkages between sugars in complex oligosaccharides are much more complex than the linkages found in other biological polymers such as proteins or nucleic acids. There are currently no easy ways of finding out the sequences of the oligosaccharides, and it is even difficult to synthetically produce oligosacharides with the correct linkages for biochemical studies. Furthermore, glycosylated proteins and lipids are though to have very heterogeneous glycosylation patterns, so it's not even clear how the cells are recognizing and using glycosylation as a tool to influence cell signalling and other cellular processes.

I agree that there are many very interesting unsolved questions in this field, but it is also a field faced with a number of very difficult problems. Biologists and chemists are trying very hard to develop a set of robust and reliable tools to study glycans in the same high-throughput manner as nucleic acids and proteins are studied, but progress remains slow. However, as we learn more about the fundamental mechanisms controlling the biosynthesis of glycans and what aspects of the glycans' structures are important for their biological activities, and as we develop better tools to characterize and synthesize glycans, this field does have the potential to profoundly impact many areas of biology.
 
  • #3
Just what we need, another -omics.
 
  • #4
JorgeLobo said:
Just what we need, another -omics.
I don't have a problem with the continuing classification/categorization of biology along these lines. It highlights how at its fundamental biology is a product of a myriad of different interconnected systems. By breaking it down into fundamentals (genetics, transcription factors, proteins, sugars, metabolites etc) we can study how these fundamentals both individually, working out all the roles, characteristics etc and holistically.
 
  • #5
Ryan_m_b said:
I don't have a problem with the continuing classification/categorization of biology along these lines. It highlights how at its fundamental biology is a product of a myriad of different interconnected systems. By breaking it down into fundamentals (genetics, transcription factors, proteins, sugars, metabolites etc) we can study how these fundamentals both individually, working out all the roles, characteristics etc and holistically.

I'm waiting for the advent of glyco-lipidomics;) Or should that be lipoglycomics?
 
  • #6
I do have a problem with the pedantic and pompous segmentation of science. It serves little purpose other than ego inflation.

Perhaps we should now explore Physicsforums-omics.

But I prefer beer-omics, that is unless there's also good scotch for singlemalt-omics then I like a shotandabeer-omics..
 
  • #7
JorgeLobo said:
I do have a problem with the pedantic and pompous segmentation of science. It serves little purpose other than ego inflation.

Perhaps we should now explore Physicsforums-omics.

But I prefer beer-omics, that is stheres good scoitch for singlemalt-omics then I like a shotandabeer-omics..
When any new field of science emerges naturally it is going to develop an umbrella term for what it is going to deal with. "-Omics" means totality, so if you are going to study proteins as a field unto itself why not call that field "proteomics"? I disagree completely with your assertion that the recent trend in categorising topics that previously fell only under the field of biochemistry is a product of pomp and ego inflation. You opinion seems merely seeped in your own sense of aesthetics rather than any logical thought process.
 
  • #8
JorgeLobo said:
I do have a problem with the pedantic and pompous segmentation of science. It serves little purpose other than ego inflation.

Perhaps we should now explore Physicsforums-omics.

But I prefer beer-omics, that is unless there's also good scotch for singlemalt-omics then I like a shotandabeer-omics..

If you can't beat them ...

You know, the old battle was lost too - biochemistry vs molecular biology.
 
  • #9
I don't think the names of fields are there for some ego inflating segmentation. They are there to group different approaches. For example, molecular biology looks at the molecular mechanisms involved in biology. Biochemistry seeks to explain aspects of biology using the framework of chemistry. Biophysics applies the methods of physics to explain some processes in biology. Obviously there is a lot of overlap, but they all have fundamentally different approaches and that is why they are named differently.
 
  • #10
Ryan_m_b said:
When any new field of science emerges naturally it is going to develop an umbrella term for what it is going to deal with. "-Omics" means totality, so if you are going to study proteins as a field unto itself why not call that field "proteomics"? I disagree completely with your assertion that the recent trend in categorising topics that previously fell only under the field of biochemistry is a product of pomp and ego inflation. You opinion seems merely seeped in your own sense of aesthetics rather than any logical thought process.



nucl34rgg said:
I don't think the names of fields are there for some ego inflating segmentation. They are there to group different approaches. For example, molecular biology looks at the molecular mechanisms involved in biology. Biochemistry seeks to explain aspects of biology using the framework of chemistry. Biophysics applies the methods of physics to explain some processes in biology. Obviously there is a lot of overlap, but they all have fundamentally different approaches and that is why they are named differently.


Like button.

I'm not really sure how would arrive at the conclusion that the naming of scientific fields is only for "pomp and ego"...
 
  • #11
bobze said:
Like button.

I'm not really sure how would arrive at the conclusion that the naming of scientific fields is only for "pomp and ego"...
Methinks this has something to do with it;
JorgeLobo said:
But I prefer beer-omics, that is unless there's also good scotch for singlemalt-omics then I like a shotandabeer-omics..
 
  • #12
gravenewworld said:
there is a huge push for genomics and proteomics these days, but how come you almost never hear anything about glycomics? The genome relies solely on 4 base pairs for diversity and proteins 20 amino acids, however, glycobiology rests on 32 known analogs of sugars! Not only that, sugars are not attached to each other linearly, they form very complex branching patterns on the surface of cells that control everything from cell-cell communication to adherence and stem cell differentiation. What is needed to advance this field further? The genome, I feel, is NOT the be all and end all, in fact, glycobiology could play just as much of an important role with regards to how cells behave, if not more. What is taking so long for researchers to flock to this field?

I know two people who research glycomics; one in the context of cystic fibrosis and the other in the context of immunology. Plus there are several institutes devoted to glycomics:

http://www.functionalglycomics.org/
http://www.glycomics.org/
http://ncgg.indiana.edu/

As in any field of science, people go where the money is. As the funding agencies transition to new lines of inquiry, proposals follow: lipidomics:

http://www.k-state.edu/lipid/lipidomics/
http://www.lipidomics.net/

Immunomics:
http://www.iimms.org/ [Broken]

Biomics (which seems to want to include all the -omics)
http://www.biomics.se/ [Broken]

and Microbiomics, which generally focuses on the gut and skin flora:
https://commonfund.nih.gov/hmp/
 
Last edited by a moderator:

1. Why is glycomics not as well-known as other fields of study?

Glycomics, the study of carbohydrates and their functions, is often overshadowed by other fields of study such as genetics and proteomics. This is because the structure and function of carbohydrates are more complex and less understood compared to other biomolecules.

2. Is there a lack of funding for glycomics research?

Yes, there is a limited amount of funding for glycomics research compared to other fields. This is due to the perception that carbohydrates are not as important as other biomolecules, and therefore, do not require as much funding.

3. How does the neglect of glycomics affect advancements in healthcare?

The neglect of glycomics research hinders advancements in healthcare, as carbohydrates play crucial roles in various biological processes and diseases. Without a deeper understanding of glycomics, it is challenging to develop effective treatments for diseases related to carbohydrates.

4. Are there any challenges in studying glycomics?

Yes, there are several challenges in studying glycomics. One major challenge is the vast diversity of carbohydrates, making it difficult to isolate and study specific structures. Additionally, the lack of standardized techniques and tools for glycomics research also poses challenges.

5. What can be done to increase awareness and support for glycomics research?

To increase awareness and support for glycomics research, it is crucial to educate the public and policymakers about the importance of carbohydrates in biological processes and diseases. Additionally, increased funding and collaboration between different fields of study can help advance glycomics research and its applications in healthcare.

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