The Intuitive Chemistry Bias by Satyanarayana Janagani, PhD
Two global forces are at odds today – the push for “greener” processes and the demand for lower prices for prescription drugs and materials. Governments and corporations across the globe are adopting policy initiatives and driving scientific innovations to promote sustainable technologies, resulting in an explosion of discoveries based on both chemical- and biocatalytic transformations.
However, there is a general misconception in the industry that biocatalytic processes supersede chemical processes. This unconscious bias among researchers gave birth to a trend that biocatalysis is the necessary tool that will bring us one step closer to the personalized medicine solution. Meanwhile, some companies are making breakthroughs to show that the foundation of drug discovery still remains in chemical processes.
With biocatalysis, only a few of the enzymes that speed up the reactions tolerate and allow conversions of nonnatural substrates. This partial promiscuity warrants human engineering of enzymes that are sufficiently general to accept a variety of related substrates, but selective enough to yield single stereoisomers. The design of biocatalysts is complicated by the fact that the catalyzed-reactions ought to be chemo-, regio- and stereoselective. The odds of success further multiply considering the ramifications when enzymes are employed under completely nonaqueous conditions.
While there have been quite a few successful examples of biocatalysis as applied to the commercialization of small molecule drugs and intermediates, the overall sustainability is still debatable owing to the sophistication, operational costs and large amounts of aqueous waste being generated.
At Stereokem, researchers are intuitively chemistry-biased and are attempting to prove that chemical methods supersede enzymatic processes in terms of sophistication, throughput, economic viability and sustainability. The company strives to bring “out of the box,” innovative and at times, under-graduate stereochemical concepts to light for designing cost-effective and sustainable chemical processes to commercialization of chiral small molecule drugs and intermediates.
Well-designed chemistry protocols revolutionize the way materials are manufactured and could prove to be at par with, or even superior to, biocatalysis. For every biocatalytic method developed, Stereokem has been endeavoring to develop an equivalent and often optimized alternative chemistry technology for the commercialization of chiral nonnatural substrates.
Enterprising and driven, Stereokem is on a mission to promote chemistry-bias among the peers using clean and green-chemistry. Their initiative is meant to bring about solidarity and encourage chemists to explore possibilities and instigate creative research to expedite the drug discovery process.