Multifunctional immunomodulating conjugates for targeting and treating glycocalyx dysfunction in inflammatory conditions

Diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels, autoimmune diseases (e.g. diabetes, multiple sclerosis), or the rejection of transplanted organs affect about 1 in 3 Canadians and constitute a significant cost to the Canadian economy. In the perpetuation of these diseases glycocalyx shedding plays a key role. The glycocalyx (literally meaning “sugar coat”) is a sugar polymer-based structure that covers the surface of the cells, which are lining all organs and blood vessels. It lies at the interface between bloodstream and organ tissue and represents the protective front line against inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases. Thus, we aim to specifically target and treat glycocalyx dysfunction by rapidly rebuilding it through a new cell surface engineering approach, which should enable organs to maintain or reestablish their function. To do so, we will develop polymer conjugates which can selectively bind and retain on the endothelial cell surface. The conjugates will present sugar moieties which resemble the natural glycocalyx layer. We anticipate to realize a novel approach with significant therapeutic potential to improve treatment for diverse disease conditions where glycocalyx dysfunction is contributing to the pathology.