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Biocatalysis Becoming Big Business for CMOs

19-Feb-2013

Biocatalysis is emerging as a hot topic for CMOs in 2013 with AMRI, Almac and DSM all citing drug industry demand as the driver for recent collaborations.

Last week US-based contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) AMRI announced it had partnered with Codexis to develop greener ways of manufacturing APIs using enzymes created with the latter’s Codevolver platform.

That Codexis deal – financial terms of which were not disclosed – was prompted by customer demand for cheaper and greener production methods according to Pete Michel, senior director of biocatalysis at AMRI.

He told Outsourcing-pharma.com that: “This has been critical to give our customers streamlined process R&D and freedom to operate,” adding that it allows AMRI to “optimize the biocatalyst for multiple properties, starting from any relevant enzyme.”

This was echoed by Codexis who told us demand is being driven by the realization that: “Enzymes allow for a less expensive way of making APIs by using fewer reagents, generating less waste and allowing the reactions to run in multi-purpose units instead of specialized plants.

Often the use of an enzyme can eliminate chemical synthesis steps and being so specific, often avoiding protection, de-protection steps, which again can lead to greater economic benefits.

Similar comments were also made by Almac and DSM this week when they updated on the progress of their biocatalysis focused collaboration

The firms, which teamed up a few months ago to develop sustainable ways of making APIs using biocatalysis, announced they have completed several projects in the fields of ketoreductase, transaminase, biooixdation and hydrolase.

Tom Moody, head of Almac’s biocatalysis unit, said: “The success of the projects undertaken between Almac and DSM already demonstrates there is a market for scalable green technologies to access difficult-to-make chiral chemicals. 

Cost remains a prevalent issue within the industry and the introduction of enzymes into processes earlier in the drug discovery pipeline helps to drive cost down as projects move forward.  Our collaboration is delivering real rewards to clients from both a technical and financial perspective.”

Almac’s biocatalysis business has been busy in recent weeks. In January , the firm formed a knowledge transfer partnership with Queen’s University in Belfast to bolster its fermentation and optimisation offering.

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