Glyco-nanomaterials: translating insights from the "sugar-code" to biomedical applications.
Polyvalent carbohydrate-protein interactions occur frequently in biology, particularly in recognition events on cellular membranes. Collectively, they can be much stronger than corresponding monovalent interactions, rendering it difficult to control them with individual small molecules. Artificial macromolecules have been used as polyvalent ligands to inhibit polyvalent processes; however, both reproducible synthesis and appropriate characterization of such complex entities is demanding. Herein, we present an alternative concept avoiding conventional macromolecules. Small glycodendrimers which fulfill single molecule entity criteria self-assemble to form non-covalent nanoparticles. These particles-not the individual molecules-function as polyvalent ligands, efficiently inhibiting polyvalent processes both in vitro and in vivo. The synthesis and characterization of these glycodendrimers is described in detail. Furthermore, we report on the characterization of the non-covalent nanoparticles formed and on their biological evaluation.