Making Cells Selectively Sticky

Science  13 Sep 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5281, pp. 1493
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5281.1493


Living cells are coated with sticky sugars, which are attached to the ends of the protein receptors and other structures on the cell surface. Investigators have long wanted to turn these sugars, called oligosaccharides, into the molecular equivalent of Velcro by modifying them to bind specific molecular partners, such as drugs aimed at specific cells. Now a research team has devised a scheme for harnessing cells' own machinery to add an additional chemical group to the ends of the oligosaccharides, turning them into potential targets for anticancer drugs.