Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Umesh R. Desai


Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are linear polysaccharides whose disaccharide building blocks consist of an amino sugar and either uronic acid or galactose. They are expressed on virtually all mammalian cells, usually covalently attached to proteins, forming proteoglycans. GAGs are highly negatively charged due to an abundance of sulfate and carboxylic acid groups, and are structurally very diverse, with differences arising from chain length, the type of monomeric units, the linkages between each monomeric unit, the position of sulfate groups, and the degree of sulfation. GAGs are known to interact with a multitude of proteins, impacting diverse physiological and pathological processes. In addition, most of the biological interactions mediated by proteoglycans are believed to be primarily because of the GAG chains present on their surface. Considering the involvement of GAGs in multiple diseases, their use in the development of drugs has been of significant interest in the pharmaceutical field. Heparin, the first GAG-based drug developed in 1935, is still the most widely used anticoagulant in the world. The therapeutic potential of GAGs for the treatment of many other disease states, including cancer, inflammation, infection, wound healing, lung diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease, is being actively studied with many GAGs currently in clinical trials. However, challenges associated with the heterogeneous and complex structure of GAGs, limit their successful development. To combat such issues, our lab has focused on developing Non- Saccharide GAG Mimetics (NSGMs) as structural mimics of GAGs. NSGMs, being synthetic molecules, offer multiple advantages over GAGs. The studies mentioned here describe our efforts in the development of NSGMs as potential therapeutics for cancer, and cystic fibrosis.


© Shravan Morla

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Available for download on Monday, June 17, 2024