Chirazim™ — a highly enantioselective enzyme
Researchers: Abu Bakar Salleh, Siti Salhah Othman, Mahiran Basri, Mohd Zobir Hussein, Mohd. Basyaruddin Abd. Rahman and Raja Noor Zaliha Abdul Rahman
If we face our hand right towards our hand left, we can say that each is the mirror image of the other. Although they look similar they are not exactly the same as they cannot overlap on top of each other. In the world of compounds, these are known as chiral compounds.
In nature, we have many such chiral pairs designated as the R and S isomer. Of importance, each member of a chiral pair can exhibit different biological properties. The differential effect is caused by the presence of enzymes (biocatalysts) in living cells that are able to recognize and thus react with specific compounds (i.e. even either member of a chiral pair).
The ability to synthesis specific compounds in its pure form is very much sought after by the chemical industry. Pure isomer has specific applications in the medical and agrichemical industry. Mixed products may diminish the effect required, or worse still may lead to detrimental results. Specific examples of isomer in industrial applications include S-ibuprofen, an analgesic agent, R- chlorophenoxy propanoate, a type of herbicide, and a number of R menthol esters that are used as flavour additives in the food and beverage industry.
However, not all enzymes have the capacity to resolve enantiomers. The ability to recognize each compound depends a lot on the shape and conformation of the enzyme molecules, especially that of the active or catalytic site. One way of modifying the conformation of the enzyme is through the process of immobilisation, where an enzyme is attached to a solid support.
There are different types of supports and techniques to immobilize enzymes. These are selected in accordance to the property of the enzymes as well as the ultimate applications. Immobilised enzymes are easy to handle and can be reused.
Chirazim (TM) is a new discovery where lipase, the enzyme was immobilised onto a support via a simple method. The support used was a multi layered hydroxide that can also be easily produced.
Immobilisation resulted in a derivatised enzyme that showed high capacity to resolve S and R isomers. Apart from that the immobilized enzyme is stable to organic solvents and high temperature, suitable characteristics in the synthesis of chiral compounds.
For more information, please contact
Dr. Nayan KANWAL
Email: [email protected]
Contact details of the lead researcher Prof. Dr. Abu Bakar Salleh is available to registered journalists from the link below