GlycoScience Group

Group Overview

The NIBRT GlycoScience group is part of the NIBRT research facilities, providing an expert/excellence in Glycomics. NIBRT GlycoScience Group has strong expertise in GlycoBiology and has focused upon the development of novel, high throughput, robust technologies for the characterisation of protein glycosylation using liquid chromatography (LC) based methods with exoglycosidase digestions and mass spectrometry. Our technology provides a service that supports the drug development pipeline of leading biopharmaceutical companies, as well as underpinning our diverse research programme.

Glycosylation is the most common posttranslational modification of proteins. Glycans are implicated in all biological processes, disease pathologies as well as in biopharmaceutical drugs’ efficacy and safety. We look at the glycosylation in ATMPs, such as in the regenerative medicinal products, and access the functionality of the glycan changes. We explore regulation of glycosylation, e.g. epigenetic regulation of glycosylation in cancer and impact on chemoresistance. Other projects include the role of glycomics in other diseases, as well as linking them with other “omics” platforms mainly genetics, microbiology and immunology in attempt to not only diagnose, but also better understand disease pathologies, including cancer and endometriosis. Glycosylation changes in disease could also serve as biomarkers and we have several potential biomarkers for detecting disease and its progression, mainly cancer.

Team Members

Principle Investigator

  • Radka Fahey

Research Team

Yagmur Bozkurt

Jack Schofield

The GlycoScience Team

Radka Fahey

Principle Investigator

Radka Fahey (Saldova) is an independent investigator with more than 16 years of experience in glycobiology; glycobiomarker discovery, glycosylation epigenetics, the role of glycosylation in disease and on therapeutics, and the development of high-throughput technologies for glycan analysis.

Dr Fahey joined the GlycoScience group in May 2005 at University of Oxford (PI Prof Pauline M Rudd) as a Research Assistant, moved to NIBRT with the group in September 2006 and defended her PhD at The University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague in November 2007. She continued as a Postdoctoral Researcher working on cancer glycobiomarkers and glycan analysis. Dr Fahey has been awarded an SFI Starting Investigator research grant (SIRG) for “Epigenetic regulation of glycosylation and the impact on chemoresistance in cancer” which commenced in October 2014 and concluded in March 2019.

Since then, she has expanded the funding and projects on the role of glycomics in other diseases, as well as linking them with other “omics” platforms attempt to not only diagnose, but also better understand disease pathologies. She has published over 80 peer-reviewed publications and presented at over 100 national and international conferences and collaborative meetings.

View Publications

Group Research Areas

Development and utilisation of methods for glycan profiling and characterization

Development of high-throughput automated, quantitative, sensitive methods to profile and characterize various glycans. Complete glycan characterization involves combination of liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and exoglycosidase enzymes; tools for automated characterization are being developed.

Roles of glycosylation on safety and improved efficacy of current and future drugs and therapeutics

Case studies include glycosylation evaluation of Anti-D antibodies and its effect on their function, role of glycosylation of alpha one antitrypsin in acute inflammation resolution and glycosylation on tissue engineered products for treatment of degenerative diseases such as intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration, evaluation of potentially immunogenic glycans such as alpha galactose.

Regulation of glycosylation

We set up the first in vitro study to investigate DNA methylation, hypoxia and N-glycan profiling together. We provided insight into the effects that epigenetic alterations have on cancer cell glycosylation, and how this potentially impacts on the overall fate of those cells.

Clinical marker discovery and application

Discovery of glycan-markers for cancer, inflammatory and other diseases (examples include Endometriosis, Galactosaemia, Parkinson’s disease and others).

Role of system biology in regulation of glycosylation

Insights on the impact of multiple systemic changes on glycan processing in disease or cell culture. Linking glycomics with genomics, epigenetics, proteomics, lipidomics, metabolomics, inflammatory pathways as well as changes in environmental factors such as medication, infection or others.

Role of glycosylation in cell therapy

Glycans modulate all aspects of human biology, especially the immune system. Role and function of glycans on therapeutic immune cells, such as CAR T-cells, may improve their efficacy.

Collaborations

We have many national and international collaborations including for example CÚRAM (NUIG, Galway), University College Dublin (UCD), University College Cork (UCC), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Maynooth University, St James’s Hospital, National Maternity Hospital (NMH), The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Glycoselect, University of Girona (UDG, Spain), University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain), University of Tartu (Estonia), Birmingham University (UK), Ludger (UK), Medical University of Warsaw (Poland), Leiden University Medical Center (The Netherlands), Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP), University of Naples (Italy), Yamaguchi Ube Medical Center (Japan), and others.

Featured Research Publications

Contact the Research Team

For GlycoScience Group queries please contact the Principal Investigator Radka Fahey at (radka.fahey@nibrt.ie). The GlycoScience Group is hiring and has ambitious plans for 2023. For latest vacancies see our careers page below.