The National Academy of Sciences Speaks Out on Glycobiology

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Recently, The National Academy of Sciences, through The National Academies Press, released a new report titled, Transforming Glycoscience:  A Roadmap for the Future.

This publication presents a roadmap for transforming glycoscience from a field dominated primarily by specialists, to a more mainstream and integrated discipline. This new focus could lead to a more comprehensive understanding of glycans (sugars), helping to potentially impact key areas in many diverse fields of health. But there’s a bigger point at play here.

For those not familiar, and as stated on its official website, The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) “is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the public good.”  Since founded in 1863, during President Abraham Lincoln’s term, the NAS continues to serve as a key advisor to the nation. In fact, in 1958 during the Eisenhower administration the U. S. satellite effort began under the auspices of the NAS. With nearly 200 members having won a Nobel Prize, leaders today continue to turn to the NAS for advice on the scientific and technological issues that frequently affect policy decisions.  Most recently, the Institute of Medicine, a part of the NAS, launched a new roundtable to explore factors beyond medical care that influence health.

On the Fringe in 1996. Mainstream in 2012.

Glyconutrients and glycoscience are synonymous with the foundation of Mannatech.  Mannatech, through the breakthrough discovery of a mannose-based polysaccharide in aloe vera gel, developed the world’s first glyconutrient dietary supplement in 1996 with the launch of Ambrotose® Complex.*  However, back in the 90s, there was much skepticism about glyconutrients. Mannatech was subject to a firestorm of press that basically attempted to debunk the discovery. But Mannatech persevered and has continued to lead the way as a pioneer in glyconutritional technology.

So here we are 17 years later with the science that is just now surfacing by noted scientific communities like The National Academy of Sciences. Mannatech has shown over the years that it continues to be ahead of its time as glycoscience has historically been a branch of science that has remained on the fringe.  However, that appears to be changing with the aforementioned publication.

We’ve seen many reports and publications over the years in this area, however, this particular publication by the NAS may have the most significant degree of credibility and mainstream exposure that we have yet to see or that we have seen in quite a long time.  For those of us familiar with glycans and glycoscience, the publication provides information that is already consistent with what we know and understand.  Of new significance is a five to 15-year roadmap of goals, made up of six key areas to advance the field of glycoscience.  The fact that the National Academy of Sciences would not only present this particular publication, but that it would do so in the context of a rather aggressive set of goals, lends a large amount of credibility to a key field that we are associated with and interested in.

So it’s safe to say, at this point, that the future for all those who have embraced, believed in and championed glycobiology, can be described in one simple, yet very appropriate word—sweet.


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