“There’s no link between sugar and hyperactivity — and study after study has demonstrated that sugar rushes are a myth.1” That may be the case for children and sweets, but for Prof. Paul DeAngelis of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, sugar science has been the source of energy and productive R&D for over three decades. Glycobiology and glycobiotechnology have fueled not just a highly respected academic career with dozens of peer-reviewed publications; they have also been the inspiration for four biotech start-ups established to commercialize the findings of basic research carried out in his lab.
Growing up with a penchant for science, Paul found “Life” amazing. As a Harvard undergrad he studied biochemistry to try to understand Life’s inner workings and set out to explore the new frontier of glycobiology. Through graduate school and post-doctoral research he has delved into the response of plants to the glycans of invasive fungi, the interactions between sperm proteins and egg sugars, and a bacterial pathogen’s use of sugars as camouflage. These led to an important tangential direction that forms the core part of his current research, the discovery and utilization of enzymes for the assembly of polysaccharides.
Along the way, Dr. DeAngelis came across light scattering, using a home-built instrument in a neighboring UC Irvine chemistry lab, to determine sugar molecular weight. It was a natural step to acquire a Wyatt MALS system to characterize the molecular weight and polydispersity of sugar polymers ranging from 10 kDa to 4 MDa. Given that his research is focused on the harnessing of novel enzymes to create quasi-monodisperse glycoaminoglycans and defined oligosaccharides, SEC-MALS is obviously an essential tool in the lab.
The DeAngelis lab has identified and patented multiple products and processes for biosynthesis and biomedical applications of hyaluronic acid, heparins and chondroitins. Hyalose LLC, Heparinex LLC, Choncept LLC and Caisson Biotech LLC were all spun off and established with the help of former DeAngelis lab students, and it follows that SEC-MALS measurements are key specifications employed on the data sheets of their products.
Having retired a 20-year-old Wyatt MALS/RI setup in favor of a new, sleeker and easier-to-use DAWN® & Optilab®, Prof. DeAngelis and his lab technician recently attended Light Scattering University to refresh their training and update their ASTRA® and instrument know-how. He comments: “My technician and I loved the training at the Wyatt LSU this Spring, but I have to admit taking my first quizzes in decades was funny (thought I had enough last century!)...luckily, we had great teachers in the Wyatt classrooms & labs to help prep us...plus all the tasty food fueled our brains well.”
Fascinating research, biotech spin-offs, satisfied long-term customers – all these combine to give us quite the rush—driven by sugar, even without the sweets. Our thanks to Paul and his team for sharing this with us!
“Nice to have the MALS method to peek at the molecular level with the bonus of being non-destructive & sensitive!”