Heparan Sulfate Mimetic

Synthetic Compounds for Disease Treatment

Victoria University of Wellington Researchers have broken new ground by synthesising
single-entity Heparan Sulfate polyvalent analogues with numerous medical applications

Innovation overview

Heparan sulfate (HS) is a highly sulfated glycosaminoglycan with a variety of critical functions in cell signalling and regulation. HS oligosaccharides can mimic or interfere with HS functions in biological systems, but highly complex synthesis has limited exploitation in medical applications.
VUW researchers have solved this problem by developing new synthesis pathways leading to a growing family of compounds. These compounds present unique opportunities for a wide range of new drugs, from wound repair to Alzheimer’s disease treatment.
The dendritic core structure of these patented compounds and the synthesis provide a template for creating other HS saccharides with polyvalent presentation optimised for other indications.


A Novel Heparan Sulfate Analogue
Compounds mimic the crucial cell regulation and signalling abilities of Heparan Sulfate
Simple and Scalable Synthesis
Commercially viable synthesis with reliable yields and ability to scale/change to suit creation of different molecule properties
Strong IP Position
Four patent families covering synthetic and semi-synthetic HS compounds and dendrimers
Broad Usability
Completely non-toxic and suitable for anything from topical application to intravenous administration


Alzheimer's Treatment
Clusters demonstrate inhibition of BACE-1 and lack off-target anticoagulant activity, ideal for developing Alzheimer's disease treatments
Healing Brain Injuries
Clusters can provide enhanced healing after brain injury and disease, allowing treatment of stroke etc.

Scar-free Healing
Compounds enable a new category of scar-free wound care products that reduce inflammation and accelerate healing

Heparan Sulfate Chain

Synthetic molecules are simplified by the replacement of complex sugar chain fragments with flexible carbon spacers. The novel 'Starburst' 4 directional dendritic core design reaches the size of multi-generational dendrimers.
The framework exploits polyvalency to achieve strong yet reversible 'velcro' type interactions for biomolecular recognition.

Technology Diagram

Research leader

Dr Olga Zubkova

A Senior Scientist at the Ferrier Research Institute, Dr Olga Zubkova has 25 years’ experience as a carbohydrate and medicinal chemist. Olga joined Industrial Research Ltd (now the Ferrier Research Institute) in 1994 and has been involved in numerous research and commercial projects. She leads discovery research and development activities of the Novel Heparan Sulfate Glycomimetics project. Her exp...

Contact person

Jeremy Jones

Jeremy Jones has returned back to the Viclink team after almost three years away leading one of Viclink’s spinout successes, AuramerBio, as CEO. An organic chemist by trade, Jeremy has almost 15 years’ experience in the biotech industry in a wide range of markets from pharmaceuticals through to research tools and medical diagnostics. He began his science career at GlycoSyn—the discovery, developme...

See Jeremy Jones's technology portfolio