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Glyco-science and TCI's Glycoscience Business

What is Glycoscience?

Sugar chains are molecules in a chain structure consisting of monosaccharides (the smallest unit of sugar) joined together through a type of bonding known as Glycosidic bonding.
For example, starch, known as an element in nutrition, is a sugar chain composed of many molecules of glucose, a monosaccharide, linked together. Hyaluronic acid, which is used for moisture retention, is a sugar chain composed of alternating molecules of two monosaccharides, glucuronic acid and N-acetylglucosamine.
Further, ABO and Lewis blood types are distinguished by the way in which monosaccharides in the sugar chain on the surfaces of red blood cells are linked (different monosaccharide types and positions).

There are an extremely diverse range of sugar chains with diverse roles and applications. Glycoscience may vary in terms of constituent sugars, combinations, order, length, bonding position and branching structure.

The Third Chain of Life

Sugar chains plays an important role in biological activities. Following on from nucleic acids (the first chain of life) and proteins (the second chains of life), sugar chains  have been described as the third chain of life. Now that the human genome has been completely decoded, Glyco-research has become a critical area of life science research in the post-genome era as researchers work to uncover an ever more diverse range of vital phenomena.

Many sugar chains exist inside organisms in the form of glycoconjugates such as glycolipids, glycoproteins and proteoglycans. The human body contains approximately 60 trillion cells and the surfaces of these cells are covered by such glycoconjugates. In addition, sugar chains and glycoconjugates are also contained within the extracellular matrixes and basal membranes that support cells and tissues. Various physiologically active substances work in tandem with sugar chains to moderate cellular and tissue function.
In this way, sugar chains play a role in maintaining the cellular environment by moderating cell activity and engaging in inter-cellular recognition and reciprocal action. In other words, changes to sugar chains result in changes to the cellular environment.

Vital phenomena involving sugar chains are reported to include generation, differentiation, cancer, infectious diseases, immune system abnormalities and ageing. For example, it is known that in a certain type of cancerous cell, the sugar chain structure changes and therefore these changes can be used in diagnosis as a cancer marker. In addition, bacteria and viruses such as cholera bacteria and the influenza virus may cause infections and reproduce by recognizing and bonding with the structure of specific sugar chains. In the case of influenza, therapeutic drugs under development suppress the reproduction of viruses by simulating the structure of sugars. There is a wide range of other applications of sugar chains and sugar chain related substances in healthcare.

Currently, the molecular mechanisms of many vital phenomena involving sugar chains within organisms are being uncovered, and this can be applied to drug development and regenerative medicine. Interest in sugars within the life science field is becoming increasingly high, and research into glycoscience is now an indispensable field.

TCI's Glycoscience Business


As interest in glycoscience grows, it has become very difficult for interested parties to procure an adequate volume of samples due to the diversity of sugar chain structure and the minute volumes of sugar chains present in organisms. This has caused glycoscience research to proceed at a slower pace than other comparable fields.

TCI believes that these problems can be resolved by using chemical processes to synthesize sugar chains. Therefore, we began researching and investing resources in the development of sugar chain synthesis blocks with a high degree of universality.
As a result, TCI has succeeded in the commercialization of numerous sugar chain synthesis blocks that can be used for a wide range of different applications and is steadily building up a track record in the bulk production of compounds for commercial use. In addition to supplying monosaccharide and oligosaccharide blocks we have also established systems, principally based on chemical synthesis, for the bulk production and supply of functional sugar chains.

TCI is also going beyond chemical synthesis with active involvement in fields such as fermentation, biochemistry, immunology, cell biology, biotechnology and molecular biology.  As a result, we have commercialized various new tools for glycoscience research including enzymes for the complete transfer of sugar chains, lectin for recognizing fucose and antibodies for sugar chains.

Future Initiatives

Going forward, TCI intends not only to expand its lineup of basic reagents for glycoscience research by fusing organic synthesis with biotechnology, but also to work towards the development of even more unique and valuable sugar chain related products and applications.

Please contact us. Our experienced staff is available to discuss  the Custom Synthesis of your desired sugar chain compounds.


TCI's glycoscience related compounds can meet your needs in sugar chain synthesis research, sugar chain functional research, medical and pharmaceutical applications.

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