Cracking the Sugar Code: Why the ‘Glycome’ Is the Next Big Thing in Health and Medicine

You’ve heard of the genome, and possibly the proteome – all the proteins in the human body. But have you heard about the glycome – the collection of sugars – that may hold the key to diagnosing disease?

When you think of sugar, you probably think of the sweet, white, crystalline table sugar that you use to make cookies or sweeten your coffee. But did you know that within our body, simple sugar molecules can be connected together to create powerful structures that have recently been found to be linked to health problems, including cancer, aging, and autoimmune diseases?

These long sugar chains that cover each of our cells are called glycans, and according to the National Academy of Sciences, creating a map of their location and structure will usher us into a new era of modern medicine. This is because the human glycome – the entire collection of sugars within our body – houses yet-to-be-discovered glycans with the potential to aid physicians in diagnosing and treating their patients.


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