COMMUNITY SITE: The Sweet Science

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Science  10 Dec 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5703, pp. 1871b
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5703.1871b

Dieters are shunning carbohydrates, but scientists are hungry for information about these molecules. They help the immune system discriminate friend from foe, are an ingredient in the goo that surrounds and supports cells, and may play a role in aging and diseases such as cancer.

The Japanese site Glycoforum, sponsored by the Seikagaku Corp. and the Mizutani Foundation for Glycoscience, is a gathering place for researchers with a taste for carbohydrate biology. Four main sections post short articles, written by academic experts in Japan and other countries, on topics from the evolution of the sugars in milk to the importance of carbohydrate-adorned receptors for flu susceptibility. One focus of the site is hyaluronan, a molecule prevalent in the gel around cells. You can learn about its effects on ovulation and development and read about how the cell's carbohydrate milieu can encourage the spread of cancer. Malignant cells exude more hyaluronan, which in turn alters the cell's internal skeleton and membrane to promote movement. The site also features a calendar of upcoming meetings and links to proceedings from past conferences.

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