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Artificial enzyme removes natural poison
Date:8/26/2010

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Even though naturally occurring enzymes are several orders of magnitude smaller than flat-nosed pliers, they are still unrivalled tools. Some of the fastest chemical reactions blast off when enzymes are added to the broth.

Several known enzymes in the body catalyze more than one million reactions per second when they decompose compounds. There's just one drawback to enzymes. They are extremely fragile.

If an enzyme in our body was to be warmed above sixtyfive degrees centigrade or subjected to organic solvents, they would immediately denature. They would unravel and stop functioning.

Taking the heat

So far no one has succeeded in designing chemzymes that are anywhere near as fast as their naturally occurring cousins. But they are far more resilient.

Manmade enzymes take on heat and solvents without batting a molecular eyelid. One of the consequences of this is that chemzymes can be mass-produced using industrial chemical processes. This is a huge advantage when you need a lot of product in a hurry.

Factory-made enzymes

Producing natural enzymes in industrial settings is considerably more time-consuming because they have to be grown. Rather like one grows apples or grain.

So the robust and designable compounds may turn out to be just what's needed for a wide variety of jobs. Not least in the pharmaceutical industries, where the need is massive for chemical compounds which can solve problems that no amount of designing could ever tweak the natural ones to work on, which are unaffected by industrial processes, and to top it of, cheap to produce.


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Contact: Jes Andersen
jean@science.ku.dk
453-050-6582
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert  

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