Indexed on: 11 May '11Published on: 11 May '11Published in: Advances in experimental medicine and biology
In the process of adhesion, bacteria often carry proteins on their surface, adhesins, that bind to specific components of tissue cells or the extracellular matrix. In many cases these components are carbohydrate structures. The carbohydrate binding specificities of many bacteria have been uncovered over the years. The design and synthesis of inhibitors of bacterial adhesion has the potential to create new therapeutics for the prevention and possibly treatment of bacterial infections. Unfortunately, the carbohydrate structures often bind only weakly to the adhesion proteins, although drug design approaches can improve the situation. Furthermore, in some cases linking carbohydrates covalently together, to create so-called multivalent systems, can also significantly enhance the inhibitory potency. Besides adhesion inhibition as a potential therapeutic strategy, the adhesion proteins can also be used for detection. Novel methods to do this are being developed. These include the use of microarrays and glyconanoparticles. New developments in these areas are discussed.