Adelaide to open biggest carbohydrate lab in Southern Hemisphere

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: Research

A new research laboratory will explore the potential benefits of complex carbohydrates that include natural immune system enhancers and high-quality cosmetics.

Adelaide Glycomics in South Australia was launched as a collaboration between the University of Adelaide and Agilent Technologies Australia. 

It will be the largest research centre of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and will host cutting-edge research in the field of glycoscience—the study of structure and function of glycans. 

Vincent Bulone, its director, said complex carbohydrates were critical in every area of biology and were vital in the production of more high-function foods. 

We want to turn this into the centre of gravity for carbohydrate analysis in the southern hemisphere and we already have a lot of international collaboration from industry to do a lot of applied research with high potential in a whole range of sectors and industries​,” he said. 

Carbohydrates are the most abundant molecules on earth but almost the most complex and heterogeneous. They are also the least understood​. 

Because of this we cannot control very easily the properties of the application products we develop and to do this we need to understand the structure and biological properties – with this facility we will be able to do that​.” 

Adelaide Glycomics will serve as a hub for national and international collaboration in complex carbohydrates across multiple industries. 

Some of the potential benefits the centre will explore include new texturing agents for food, creating bioplastics, new drug delivery systems, helping control the composition and quality of wines, producing hair gels and cosmetics, and developing biosensors. 

You can use carbohydrates as a metric and modify them with biomolecules that can be used as sensors. You can use them to couple as protein receptors for sensing pollutants that bind to proteins in polluted water​,” Prof. Bulone said. 

There is carbohydrate research already happening in Australia, but what we want to do here is have something really comprehensive and world class, equivalent to the only other centre of its kind in the world in Georgia, USA​. 

The other thing we will do is organise training for the future leaders in R&D in Australia in that area, which is going to constantly expand and our society is growing more towards green chemistry, green materials, sustainability, converting waste into products​.” 

David Bradley, regional academia and collaborations manager at Agilent, an American research, development and manufacturing company spun off from Hewlett Packard, said the company was proud to work with the University of Adelaide. 

This collaboration underscores the importance Agilent places on academia, working together to boost scientific outcomes that will provide economic and societal benefits​,” he said. 

We have since developed many spectroscopy-based laboratory instruments, and continue to be committed to working with researchers across various industries to develop new applications from insight to outcome​.”

Related topics: Formulation, Oceania

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