Chemical Biology of Carbohydrates

This group is located at the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS)


Carbohydrates and glycoconjugates belong to the three major classes of biopolymers. Complex carbohydrates play important roles in biological recognition processes that are represented by the presence of dense glycoconjugate layers on cells known as the glycocalyx. Despite their importance, the study of carbohydrates suffers from limited methods for their synthesis and analysis contrary to nucleic acids or proteins.

Treatment of chronic infections: disrupting lectin-mediated biofilms

Many human pathogens can establish chronic infections with the help of a biofilm mode of life. As a protective shield, the matrix of the biofilm renders antibiotics ineffective and secures survival of the embedded pathogen. Novel ways for treatment address disintegration of such biofilms and thus restore activity of antibiotics. Frequently, the architecture of biofilms is maintained by carbohydrates and so-called lectins, recognizing and cross-linking carbohydrate motifs of the glycocalyx, both on human cells and pathogens. The inhibition of such structural components leads to the disruption of a biofilm and thereby allows treatment of the infection. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important pathogen in hospital-acquired infections and for cystic fibrosis patients. This Gram-negative bacterium can establish chronic infections in various tissues through assembly into protective biofilms. One focus of our research is two P. aeruginosa lectins, which are crucial elements of the biofilm architecture.

The group of Dr. Alexander Titz aims at the development of antibacterial drugs using a combination of medicinal chemistry, biochemistry and microbiological methods. Recently, a competitive binding assay was developed for the in vitro evaluation of inhibitors of the Pseudomonas lectins. In collaboration with other groups at HIPS and the HZI, potent molecules obtained by the group are then further evaluated in biofilm and infection models. Such compounds may ultimately lead to successful treatment of chronic infections without evoking resistances among the pathogens.


  • Dr Alexander Titz

    Alexander Titz

    Head of Junior Research Group Chemical Biology of Carbohydrates

    +49 681 98806-2500


Bachelor & Master
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Audio Podcast

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    Sie sind winzig klein, lieben es warm und gelten unter wissenschaftlichen Insidern als neuer Stern am Antibiotikahimmel: Actinomyceten. Allerdings ist dieser Stern nicht sehr freigiebig mit seinen Produkten und wehrt sich beinahe schon zielstrebig gegen Versuche ihm neue Substanzen zu entlocken. Andriy Luzhetskyy hat einen Trick entwickelt, mit dem er die Abwehr der Actinomyceten unterwandern kann – und so neue Quellen für neuartige Antibiotika erschließt. Besuchen Sie ihn am Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland (HIPS)…