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Scope 41 - A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

16 April 2010

The Malaghan Institute of Medical Research is New Zealand’s premier vaccine and immunology research centre. For over 16 years our scientists have been focused on developing more effective and natural immune-based therapies for treating disease. This pioneering work has led to the development of a cancer vaccine, which is currently being evaluated in a phase I clinical trial for glioblastoma multiforme (brain cancer); however the research doesn’t stop there.

Whilst searching for different ways to control or stimulate even stronger immune responses, Malaghan Institute scientists discovered that ‘sweetening’ particular immunotherapies with the addition of specific carbohydrates (sugars) can actually make them work better!

Through setting up an Immunoglycomics group, which fuses chemistry with immunology, we are in a unique position to use target sugars that have been synthesised onsite. This technique has enabled us to redefine the way we can treat diseases such as cancer, asthma and tuberculosis.