Our work in “Chemical (neo)glycosylation of biological drugs” has been published in Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews.
Biological drugs, specifically proteins and peptides, are a privileged class of medicinal agents and are characterized with high specificity and high potency of therapeutic activity. However, biologics are fragile and require special care during storage, and are often modified to optimize their pharmacokinetics in terms of proteolytic stability and blood residence half-life. In this review, we showcase glycosylation as a method to optimize biologics for storage and application. Specifically, we focus on chemical glycosylation as an approach to modify biological drugs. We present case studies that illustrate the success of this methodology and specifically address the highly important question: does connectivity within the glycoconjugate have to be native or not? We then present the innovative methods of chemical glycosylation of biologics and specifically highlight the emerging and established protecting group-free methodologies of glycosylation. We discuss thermodynamic origins of protein stabilization via glycosylation, and analyze in detail stabilization in terms of proteolytic stability, aggregation upon storage and/or heat treatment. Finally, we present a case study of protein modification using sialic acid-containing glycans to avoid hepatic clearance of biological drugs. This review aims to spur interest in chemical glycosylation as a facile, powerful tool to optimize proteins and peptides as medicinal agents.