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Applied enzyme technology:
Our biocatalysis group has demonstrated the use of hydrolase enzymes as powerful separation tools for the purification of compounds at mg to tonne scale. The power of a biocatalyst to selectively discriminate between products and impurities through selective hydrolysis or acylation has led to the rapid delivery of pure compound to the customer.
This technique can be applied to mixtures where a handle for manipulation is available for the biocatalyst to modify such ester, acid, nitrile, amide or hydroxyl moieties.
In the case of the hydroxyl group, hydrolase enzymes can selectively acylate the hydroxyl group to the corresponding ester. Using different acyl agents such as vinyl esters, esters and anhydrides, the hydroxyl group can be modified in such away for easy removal as shown in the diagram below:
Depending on the functionality of the groups on the product, different work-up procedures can be carried out to remove the modified impurity such as simple acid-base extraction and solvent partition of immiscible solvents.