Alex Dean

Carbohydrate Synthesis

Blog Post created by Alex Dean on Nov 30, 2017

If in chemistry, we call it chemical synthesis which covers a wide range of categories. Chemical synthesis is very critical to many chemistry researches as based on it new compounds with new physical or biological properties could be discovered. Also, it is indispensable in drug discovery if new drugs are to be created.


Among all classifications of chemical synthesis, carbohydrate synthesis is one of them, including the synthesis of a series of complicated compounds like oligosaccharide, glycan, sugar amino acid, glycopeptide, glycoconjugate, etc.

Carbohydrate is a multi-task player in living organisms, from primary source of energy to cell-cell interactions to cancer metastasis. Therefore, it is fair to say that carbohydrate plays an important role in many biological processes. However, they are hard to be synthesized because of their structural complexity.  


According to a book titled Carbohydrate Chemistry, Biology and Medical Applications, the difficulties of carbohydrate synthesis lie in the following regards:

  1. a) It’s hard to distinguish the exact hydroxyl group at a particular position from other hydroxyl groups as all these hydroxyl groups share similar properties.
  2. b) Compared with other synthesis, glycosylation reactions are definitely much difficult and as a result always have poor yields.

  The biggest challenge is how to achieve the desired glycosidic linkage in a stereoselective manner.