(367d) Reaction Engineering and Catalysis for Life Science Applications | AIChE

(367d) Reaction Engineering and Catalysis for Life Science Applications


Khinast, J. - Presenter, Rutgers University

In the last decade there has been a shift in the focus of reaction engineers, away from bulk and petrochemicals to biological, pharmaceutical and biomedical systems. Also, the funding landscape has changed significantly over the last years, forcing young faculty to migrate towards life science applications - an area, where reaction engineers may have a significant impact. Examples include the design of smart drug delivery devices, controlled functionalization of surfaces, development of diagnostic and therapeutic micro-reactors, biomedical devices, molecular sensors, etc. However, for these applications reaction engineers have to extend their classical models to include a molecular or microscopic understanding of reactive chemical and biochemical systems, as has been demonstrated in other areas, for example by the groups of Vlachos and Kevrekidis.

Similar observations hold for the field of catalysis. New drugs coming to the market are becoming more sophisticated and are larger molecules, which are harder to synthesize on a production scale. In a pharmaceutical synthesis a sequence of 10 to 15 synthetic steps is no exception. If each step of a 10-step synthesis had a 50% selectivity, the overall yield would be 0.510 = 0.001 or a 1/10th of a percent. Thus, highly selective catalytic processes are critical for advanced pharmaceutical syntheses. As a consequence, the importance of catalytic processes for life science applications (e.g., chiral reactions) is steadily increasing, effectively replacing old stoichiometric routes.

In this presentation several of our research efforts in the area of reaction engineering and catalysis for life science applications are presented, including the development of novel controlled immobilization techniques for enzyme, multifunctional enzyme-based micro-reactors for fine chemicals synthesis and therapeutic devices and sensors, as well as effective catalysts for the synthesis of bioactive, chiral molecules.