Prof. Ram Sasisekharan on Glycosaminoglycans

Sasisekharan's laboratory's broad research objectives are aimed towards understanding the mechanisms governing the extracellular regulation of cell function, generating novel pharmacological approaches to modulate cell function for the treatment of diseases.

Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), the polysaccharide component of the extracellular matrix (ECM), are the most acidic naturally occurring biopolymers. These GAGs not only hydrate the ECM, but also solubilize several transient molecules, such as growth factors, cytokines, enzymes etc. that diffuse from the outside of a tissue to the cell surface to modulate cellular function. GAGs are believed to regulate important physiological as well as pathological processes, which include morphogenesis, angiogenesis and tumor growth. At the present time, due to a lack of powerful methods and tools, there is little information as to how GAGs modulate or regulate a given biological process.

Research Focus

Using GAGs as a model system, our vision is to focus and develop on the one hand, a programmatic approach to investigate important questions addressing the biological roles and significance of these complex molecules. On the other hand, this strategy is built with the idea of plausible technological applications in mind, which include the development of much desired novel and powerful tools and agents for both diagnostic as well as therapeutic needs for unmet medical conditions.

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