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BASF with new class of enzymes for production of chiral intermediates


* Ongoing success in biocatalysis

* Growing portfolio of ChiPros

BASF has developed a new class of enzymes that can be utilized for the industrial production of chiral intermediates: these specifically modified biocatalysts, which the companies has patented, are called enoate reductases. The asymmetric bioreactions catalyzed by enoate reductases take place at low temperatures and standard pressure and, by being highly selective, yield particularly high-quality products. This allows a very efficient process for producing chemically sophisticated chiral molecules of outstanding optical purity. Examples include esters and aldehydes, which serve as starting materials in the production of active pharmaceutical and agrochemical ingredients.

Enoate reductases complement BASF’s portfolio of enzymes, to date comprised of dehydrogenases, nitrilases and lipases. They are obtained from various organisms, for example yeasts like beer yeast, and from plants like tomato and tobacco.

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Growing portfolio of chiral intermediates

BASF provides its customers with access to a broad and steadily growing portfolio of chiral amines, beta-aminoacids, aminoalcohols, aromatic and aliphatic alpha-hydroxy acids, alcohols and epoxides. Building on many years of experience in this field, the company can develop and produce new chiral intermediates in close cooperation with its customers anywhere in the world, purposefully and fast. Delivery quantities available range from the lab scale to large-scale industrial volumes. BASF currently operates three production facilities for ChiPros®, the brand name by which the company’s chiral intermediates are traded, at its sites in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and Geismar, USA, with a combined annual capacity in excess of 4,000 metric tons.

Chiral molecules are vital in today’s production of pharmaceuticals and crop protectants. The term “chiral” derives from the ancient Greek word “cheir” and means “hand.” Like your left and right hands, chiral mole-cules are not superimposable: they are rather like mirror images of each other. This is a small difference that has a great impact on the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. Only one of the two types of molecule – experts refer to them as “enantiomers” – will produce the desired effect in the finished product.

Chiral intermediates are examples of the successful use of white bio-technology, which BASF considers to be a 21st century key technology. Also known as industrial biotechnology, white biotechnology allows many product and process innovations that would often be impossible to achieve by any other route. This technology employs microorganisms (fermentation) or isolated enzymes (biocatalysis) to make products like enzymes or chiral intermediates. BASF has nearly three decades of experience in this field.


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