Although biocatalysis has made significant inroads into large-scale fine chemicals manufacturing, enzymatic processes have yet to be fully exploited, according to Michael Puls, managing director of Germany’s Evocatal. “It’s only the tip of the iceberg, and there is so much potential,” he said. “We are striving to make more reactions available through enzymes.”
Evocatal develops and supplies tailored enzymes and is partnering with fine chemicals maker Rohner to offer complementary routes to enantiomerically pure products. The Swiss partner can provide transition-metal catalysis, high-pressure hydrogenation, and other reaction capabilities for process development and scale-up, with a strong focus on chiral compounds. “Customers are interested in always getting the best solution from both the chemo- and biocatalytic worlds,” said Andreas Meudt, Rohner’s director of sales and marketing.
Meanwhile, Ampac Fine Chemicals also hopes to grow its biocatalysis services, which it offers in partnership with enzyme developer Codexis. The biocatalysis technology complements Ampac’s simulated-moving-bed (SMB) separation capabilities for customers seeking chiral chemistry services, according to Ampac President Aslam Malik. Demand continues to grow, and the company is expanding capacity with a new 75-mm, six-column SMB production unit.
In addition to customers in the contract manufacturing sector, more than 50 pharma industry customers are screening enzymes in Codexis kits, said Peter Seufer-Wasserthal, senior vice president for pharmaceuticals at Codexis. In 2011, the firm’s product revenues grew 49% to $49 million, mostly from sales of enzymes to generic and innovator pharma customers.