Business Update: June 2023 | AIChE

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Business Update: June 2023

Business Update

Immobilizing enzymes at scale

Immobilizing enzymes at scale

London-based biocatalyst startup, FabricNano, has announced a partnership with Sumitomo Chemical America to jointly develop a commercial-scale process.

Some background. In many ways, enzymes could be the holy grail of catalysis. They have the potential to achieve near-perfect selectivity, and they do that at low temperatures (low operational cost and less heat-driven emissions). But enzymes have yet to live up to their potential — largely because reactions that occur inside of a cell are constrained to batch processes, and because cell-free options have been either ineffective or too expensive.

What does FabricNano do? Enzymes aren’t stable structures when they are outside of their cells, so in order to use those enzymes in a continuous process, we need to figure out how to stabilize them. This has historically been done with enzyme immobilization, but immobilization has never been easy (mostly because no two enzymes are alike, so finding a suitable substrate requires a lot of trial and error). FabricNano is introducing a data-driven approach to quickly find ultra-stable enzyme and substrate pairs.

Zooming out. FabricNano has been working with Sumitomo for the last year, and this announcement signals that they are getting closer to a commodity-scale solution. Since rapid biocatalyst design and substrate matching is the core competency, it makes a lot of sense for FabricNano to become a technology or biocatalyst provider, while Sumitomo...

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