Polyclonal

Control (left) and polyclonal antibody staining for anti-Neu5Gc (right) in a carcinoma cell line. Credit: courtesy of Nissi Varki, UCSD" />Control (left) and polyclonal antibody staining for anti-Neu5Gc (right) in a carcinoma cell line. Credit: courtesy of Nissi Varki, UCSD Researcher: Ajit Varki, distinguished professor of medicine and of cellular and molecular medicine, and co

Jeffrey M. Perkel
May 1, 2008
<figcaption>Control (left) and polyclonal antibody staining for anti-Neu5Gc (right) in a carcinoma cell line. Credit: courtesy of Nissi Varki, UCSD</figcaption>
Control (left) and polyclonal antibody staining for anti-Neu5Gc (right) in a carcinoma cell line. Credit: courtesy of Nissi Varki, UCSD

Researcher:
Ajit Varki, distinguished professor of medicine and of cellular and molecular medicine, and codirector of the Glycobiology Research and Training Center, University of California, San Diego

Project:
Studying the bioaccumulation of a specific antigenic, nonhuman, sialic acid called N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), which enters into human tissues from animal-derived products and some biotechnology products.

Problem:
No known lectin binds specifically to Neu5Gc, which makes routine detection of small amounts of the sugar a challenge.

Solution:
Though humans cannot synthesize Neu5Gc, it is bioaccumulating in human tissues, mainly from red meat and milk products. That's a problem, because many individuals possess circulating antibodies against the sugar. As no known lectin specifically binds Neu5Gc, Varki's...