Enzymes are powerful tools, affirming themselves more and more in an industrial setting. This project is in collaboration with Johnson Matthey and together we want to develop an efficient biocatalytic system to generate small chiral amines from ketone precursors. While it is already possible to use enzymes such as amino transaminases for the chiral synthesis of sterically hindered amines, it is less straightforward to develop an enzyme that is capable of selectively introducing an amino group where the pro-chiral ketone has little difference between the two side-chains. Interesting, small chiral amines feature very often in pharmaceuticals as well as agrochemicals. The project will involve the screening of libraries generated by random mutagenesis available both at the University of Nottingham and at Johnson Matthey. Furthermore, tandem enzymatic reaction will combine transaminases with a second biocatalyst such as an esterase or amidase to combine the chiral amines with different carboxylic acids to form optically active amides. An internship at Johnson Matthey in Cambridge UK for a minimum of 3 months is a key training element of this iCASE scholarship.
Dr Francesca Paradisi (email@example.com)
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