Catalysts are the Happy Mole Day October 23rd Chemistry Teacher Student Gift T-Shirt backbone of many of the most important processes used in industry – whether it’s the production of drugs or fertilizers, the catalysts that makeup chemistry as we know it. But while 100,000 scientists have been using and developing catalysts for hundreds of years, life has been doing so for hundreds of centuries.
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For that reason, synthetic catalysts are often unable to compete with the Happy Mole Day October 23rd Chemistry Teacher Student Gift T-Shirt effectiveness and selecti selection of natural enzymes. All biological catalysts have evolved to operate in the same solvent – water – and most operate at mild temperatures and pressures. Although wild catalysts found in nature will only catalyst for their specific reactions, advances in protein engineering and genome sequences mean that the selection or creation of mutant enzymes that catalyst different reactions has become possible. As a result, the use of bio-diligence has rapidly expanded and changed the way the industry produces compounds, with today’s global enzyme market worth around £5.25bn.
Using mut muted enzymes is at the Happy Mole Day October 23rd Chemistry Teacher Student Gift T-Shirt core of what Oxford Biotrans – a biotechnology start-up from Oxford University – does. Based in Abingdon, UK, and backed by technology developed over 20 years by Oxford chemistry luet Lok Wong, the team used enzymes to find their way to hard-to-reach molecules. Their focus is on cytochrome P450 monooxygenases – a family of more than 21,000 enzymes that depend on haem that play an important role in bacteria, plants and humans – such as the Happy Mole Day October 23rd Chemistry Teacher Student Gift T-Shirt metabolism of toxic compounds in the liver. “The cytochrome P450 enzyme is a natural biological catalyst – they break the carbon-hydrogen bond and do it quite selectively,” said Matthew Hodges, the company’s director of technology and operations. “It is unusual in a certain sense – selective activation of the C-H link is not easy to achieve.” In this case, it is done by inserting an oxygen atom from atmospheric oxygen – a typically selective activation strategy, and for C- H-link has no analogy in classical chemical atoms.