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The GlycoHIT Project

GlycoHIT - a research project dedicated to Glycomics and Cancer Diagnosis

GlycoHIT (Glycomics by High throughput Integrated Technologies) is an international project funded under the EU's Seventh Framework  Programme which aims to develop technologies that will enable fast and accurate analysis of glycosylation in blood samples from cancer patients.

The potential: The GlycoHIT project will contribute to the development of reliable and fast diagnostic tests for the early detection of cancer. All cells and most proteins in blood are glycosylated, that is they are coated with sugars, and these sugars are known to be altered in many diseases, including cancer. High-throughput technologies to analyse these altered sugars, or glycobiomarkers, will allow scientists to diagnose different forms of cancer from a simple blood test without the need for biopsy. GlycoHIT will also further develop sugar testing technologies to allow this rapid form of diagnosis to be used in a clinical setting.

Early diagnosis and treatment can result in increased survival rates and improved quality of life for the patient.

The Approach: A number of specific sugar biomarkers associated with certain forms of cancer have already been identified, but more are needed to improve the accuracy with which they can be used for cancer diagnosis. GlycoHIT will also assist the identification of improved glycobiomarkers for cancer. By discovering new biomarkers, as well as modifying existing lab technologies to decrease the amount of time required for testing, GlycoHIT has the potential to deliver a diagnosis in minutes rather than days.

The Team: the project brings together leading researchers from across Europe, China and Japan, with the specific mix of glycomics and biosensor expertise needed for this challenging research. Click here for details of the consortium.


Protein glycosylation is a post-translational phenomenon that is involved in most physiological and disease processes including cancer. Most of the known cancer-associated glycobiomarkers were discovered individually using liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy. Though valuable, there is room for improvement in these approaches for the discovery phase. There is also a critical need for innovative, rapid, and high-throughput (HTP) technologies that will translate the discovery of cancer-associated glycobiomarkers from basic science to clinical application.

The GlycoHIT consortium brings a highly experienced, innovative and interdisciplinary team of researchers from Europe, China and USA representing academia, industry and clinical fields to significantly enhance some of the existing glycoanalytical technologies and to advance novel HTP glycoanalytical technologies beyond current state of the art.

Microchip technology and novel partitioning methods will be exploited for nanoscale HTP separations of serum glycoproteins for analysis by HPLC or LC–MS.

In parallel, lectin array technology will be radically improved by the innovative use of recombinant human lectins and lectin mimics derived by screening large phage displayed combinatorial libraries.

Aptamer libraries will be exploited for identification of lectin mimics and development of a glycosignature platform

Compatibility of the lectin/lectin mimic array technologies with novel label-free biosensors will be explored.

Newly-developed technologies will be validated by analysis of serum samples from a variety of cancer patient cohorts and will be supported throughout by experimental interaction analysis, complex structural modelling and informatics.

Effective project management, commercially-aware intellectual property management and targeted dissemination activities supplement the core science and ensure maximum impact for the project.