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University of Copenhagen chemists create a fast-acting, powerful enzyme to replace dangerous chemicals
Pollution from industrial processes can be reduced by enzymes. Previously, only a small range of enzymes have been available for the chemical industry.
Now, a group of researchers at The Department of Chemistry at University of Copenhagen (U of C) have produced an artificial enzyme that may lead to the production of tailor-made enzymes for any number of processes.
This is according to the bioengineering website Genengnews.com.
Professor Mikael Bols along with Ph.d. students Jeanette Bjerre and Thomas Hauch Fenger havde published their breakthrough in the international journal ChemBioChem.
The U of C researchers are the first to produce an enzyme capable of speeding up oxidizing processes. The enzyme they have produced is enzyme unlike any seen in nature.
The new enzymes will be important in sensitive processes such as those involved in medicine production in the pharmaceutical industry.
Natural enzymes typically speed up reactions by as much as 1 million times. The new enzyme will speed up reactions by around 10.000 times. But even though the speed doesn’t compare to the natural enzymes, it is still a breakthrough, says Mikael Bols.
»When we succeeded with the first enzyme, it’s reaction speed was only multiplied by 25, so I think it’s fair to speak of a breakthrough here,« he explains.
Oxidizing processes the basis of all chemical production. Traditional chemical oxidizers are often dangerously unrefined, often requiring high temperatures, extreme pressure and corrosive surroundings.
They can be designed to be unbelievably specific and are able to operate under moderate conditions, unlike their traditional chemical counterparts.
The use of these enzymes causes much less pollution than the use of their chemical equivalents.