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The field of glycomics defines the structures and functions of glycans, or sugars, in biological systems. Glycans perform many functions in cells and cell systems, from helping cells recognize invaders, to guiding cell growth, to enabling the folding of protein structures that affect health.

In support of the biomanufacturing and protein therapeutics communities, NIST research underpins the characterization of glycans in three focus areas: 1) development of glycan reference materials, 2) development of mass spectral glycan reference data libraries, and 3) administration of glycan measurement interlaboratory comparison studies.

Key Accomplishments

Glycan reference standards

A glycan-based Standard Reference Material (SRM 3655) is being developed to support the biomanufacturing and protein therapeutics communities.  The SRM will consist of a set of 13 individually-bottled, pure glycoforms including those most commonly observed as N-linked glycans on therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.  This quantitative glycan material will enable accurate, SI-traceable quantification of antibody glycosylation, and can be used to assess quantity, identity, or stability between labs, between production lots, or over time.

Mass spectral glycan reference data

The NIST Mass Spectral Reference Libraries are continuously increasing the number of glycan and oligosaccharide reference spectra included. Recent additions include glycan from NISTmAb, NIST Human Milk SRM 1953 and oligosaccharides from a variety of mammals, including samples shared with NIST from the National Zoo in Washington, DC.

NIST Mass Spectrometry Data Center products relevant to glycomics include:

Interlaboratory measurement comparison studies

NIST coordinated an interlaboratory study for laboratories that measure glycosylation in monoclonal antibodies. A published report describes the design of and results for the NIST Interlaboratory Study on the Glycosylation of NISTmAb, a Monoclonal Antibody Reference Material from 103 reports submitted by 76 laboratories.

The Research

Projects & Programs

Additional Resources Links


New NIST Method Can Better Identify Sneaky Sugars on Viruses’ Spiky Weapons

NIST Issues the First Standard Reference Material for the Quantitative Analysis of Glycans

New NIST Reference Material Helps Manufacturers Better Assess Their Biological Drug Products