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The True Sweet Science

Researchers develop a taste for the study of sugars

9:59am, April 9, 2002

"A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down," sings Julie Andrews in the popular Disney movie Mary Poppins. The musical nanny doesn't seem to realize that sometimes the sugar is the medicine. Consider the blood-thinner heparin, the best-selling drug in the world. This complex sugar, or carbohydrate, is a reminder that there's more to life than DNA and the

proteins it encodes. Complex sugars coat almost every cell in the body, as well as microbes that cause disease. And many proteins acquire a covering of sugars.

Although scientists once thought such sugars were mere decoration, they now appear to play a vi

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