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Drug Discov Today. 2007 Apr;12(7-8):319-26. Epub 2007 Mar 1.

Sialic acids: carbohydrate moieties that influence the biological and physical properties of biopharmaceutical proteins and living cells.

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Applied Biochemistry Group and Centre for Bioanalytical Sciences, School of Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland.


Sialic acids are structurally diverse molecules that have important roles in the physiological reactions and characteristics of prokaryotes and eukaryotes. These include the ability to mask epitopes on underlying glycan chains and to repulse negatively charged moieties. Here, we describe the metabolism and immunological relevance of sialic acids and outline how their properties have been exploited by the pharmaceutical industry to enhance the therapeutic properties of proteins such as asparaginase and darbepoetin alpha.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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