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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T018488/1
Title: 'Plug-and-play' continuous cascade biocatalysis
Principal Investigator: France, Dr S
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 September 2020 Ends: 31 August 2025 Value (£): 1,100,594
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Bioprocess Engineering Catalysis & Applied Catalysis
Reactor Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Manufacturing
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Feb 2020 Man Fellows 7 Interview Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
There is a great need for cost-effective and environmentally sustainable methods for the large-scale production of pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals. Traditionally, chemical synthesis on a manufacturing scale has been dominated by processes using non-renewable resources, toxic metal catalysts and the resulting formation of hazardous waste. Biocatalysis is an area of research that uses enzymes which are naturally derived, renewable and biodegradable catalysts to perform valuable chemical transformations.

Over the past ten years there has been enormous growth in the continuous flow synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), value-added chemicals, and materials. This relies on performing chemical reactions by pumping starting materials in at one end and allowing the reaction to take place as it flows through a system of tubing or over an immobilized catalyst, with the product released at the other end. The benefits of continuous flow processes include improved mixing and heat control compared to running the same reaction in a large tank as a batch process. Also there is the ability to incorporate automation and in-line analysis and purification to a continuous flow system which make these processes an enabling technology to streamline and optimize chemical syntheses. Flow technology, combined with biocatalysis has great promise to positively impact industrial manufacturing processes by leveraging the powerful properties of enzymatic transformations for more sustainable and efficient syntheses.

The research involved in this project is concerned with broadening the scope of enzymatic transformations through using two or more biocatalysts in concert to achieve a range of diverse functionalization. Concomitantly, a platform for the use of these enzymes in a continuous flow reactor, where the reaction components can be efficiently mixed and various parameters can be exquisitely controlled, will be developed. This is a strategy that is not yet widely exploited for enzymatic reactions, yet its success could lead to more wide spread replacement of the environmentally and financially costly methods which are currently in use for chemical syntheses worldwide. This exciting platform for using enzymes in flow could be widely applicable to the synthesis of a host of APIs and pharmaceutical intermediates, potentially replacing the current processes with planet-friendly, sustainable biocatalytic methodologies.

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