Biocatalysis has become an established technology for the industrial manufacture of fine chemicals and active pharma. The application of enzymes as catalysts for chemical synthesis, has become a valuable tool for the synthetic chemist. Enzymatic transformations carried out by partially purified enzymes or whole-cell catalysts are used for the production of a wide variety of chemicals, from bulk to fine chemicals.
In recent years, chemical companies have embraced biocatalysis for the manufacture of desired stereoisomers, and new or improved methods for the synthesis of enantiomerically pure alpha- and beta-amino acids, amines, amides, peptides, nitriles, alcohols etc. have emerged.
Furthermore, the selectivity and mild operational conditions of biocatalysts are increasingly applied in industry to modify complex target molecules. These recent innovations in the manufacture of industrial fine chemicals using biocatalysis are discussed from an industrial perspective.
Several procedures have been reported for the development of biocatalytic processes comprising integrating biocatalysts into a variety of industrially interesting processes ranging from the manufacture of smaller, chiral speciality chemicals to the synthesis of more complex pharmaceutical intermediates. The use of rational protein design, multistep processes and de novo design of enzyme catalysts for the stereocontrolled preparation of important target structures further contributed to its success.
Procedures have been established for biocatalytic single-step reactions. Multi-step reactions and multi-component reactions enable an approach where biocatalytic reactions work together in one compartment and reactions hindering each other within different compartments or steps. The understanding of the catalytic functions of known and new enzymes is key for the development of new sustainable chemical transformations.