The skill and the staying power for success.


Our research capability is second to none. More than 80 percent of our staff hold PhDs, and many are internationally recognized leaders in their field. Through our links with the Ferrier Research Institute and Callaghan Innovation, we have the largest combined concentration of carbohydrate chemistry and cGMP manufacturing expertise in the world.


Despite this size, we are a niche, boutique operation, and what really sets us apart is our zeal, tenacity, and sheer guts. We channel our expertise into painstakingly mapping out the most maddening of molecules, and creating the most complex carbohydrate compounds. As we’ve proved time and time again, we don’t give up until we get there.

What We Offer:

  • Custom synthesis of carbohydrates, small molecules and lead drug candidates
  • Rational drug design, route selection and optimization
  • De-risking the CM&C side of drug development

"For clients, it’s a winning combination. You access the best scientists to develop chemistry concepts in complete confidentiality, you own any improvements made for you within the GlycoSyn business model, and you can also ask GlycoSyn to take your drug compounds from the laboratory bench to manufacture for use in human clinical trials and commercial applications. All this in the secure knowledge that your compound, and its documentation, will be treated with the same level of superior attention, confidentiality and quality assurance throughout.”


Dr Richard Furneaux
Director of Discovery Chemistry, Ferrier Research Institute and GlycoSyn


Our Areas of Expertise:

In addition to our recent progress in chemo-enzymatic synthesis, our ground-breaking work with international partners on small-molecule enzyme inhibitors and synthetic vaccines places us at the forefront of drug development for some of the world’s most serious diseases

Enzyme inhibitors:

Oncology: Forodesine for Peripheral T-cell Lymphoma

Over the past 20 years our collaboration with Professor Vern Schramm at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York has been highly successful in identifying drug targets and creating carbohydrate-based enzyme inhibitors that are far more potent than others. This has led to a highly valuable intellectual property portfolio.

Neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease) and oncology: Synthetic heparan sulfate.

Heparan sulfate, despite being naturally present in all animal systems, has proved the most complicated molecule to synthesize due to its inordinate number of variant structures. Through our collaboration with Jerry Turnbull of the University of Liverpool, UK, we have managed to tease out and manufacture a synthetic heparan sulfate small molecule. This molecule is designed to block enzymes in the brain responsible for neurotoxic peptides that kill cells and lead to plaque formation.


Synthetic Vaccines:

Immunology and oncology: Vaccine adjuvants

We have been working with the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, Wellington to develop synthetic vaccines that educate our immune systems to recognize and attack cancer cells. As carbohydrate specialists, we are perfectly positioned to detect differences between the carbohydrates present on the cell surface of all normal and diseased tissue, and also to mimic the carbohydrate-based danger signals that trigger an immune response.


“We are known internationally for carbohydrates, so we get presented with the trickiest complex issues all the time. To name a few recent challenges; despite often incomplete or misleading literature, we championed the synthesis of an oligosaccharide for an antibacterial vaccine that was robust enough for scale-up manufacture. We were also approached by a US company to synthesize a potent but unstable natural compound. Of the 20 companies who submitted compound designs, we were the only one able to design a route that worked and create a stable molecule. GlycoSyn subsequently produced 1.5kg of that compound in GMP manufacture. This is a great example of how biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies can tap into our research prowess and state-of-the art manufacturing facilities to solve complex problems involving multi-step, scale-up synthesis efficiently and profitably.”

-Dr Richard Furneaux


*Ulrike Hubl, Cynthia Sun, Shuguang Zhang, Derek Watt, Sam Kim, Jason Ryan and Keryn Johnson, Biotransformation using recombinant CMP sialic acid synthetase and α-2,6-sialyltransferase: Enzymatic synthesis of Sialosides, Am. J. Biochem. Biotechnol., 8 (2012) 288-303