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EUR1.5 million for greener medicines

17 February 2017

Prof. Gerrit Poelarends has been awarded a Vici grant of € 1.5 million to make the production processes of a number of frequently prescribed drugs greener. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) announced the award today. Poelarends is professor in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy (GRIP). He is one of four University of Groningen researchers to be awarded a Vici grant .

Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is used in a class of drugs that are frequently prescribed for epilepsy, depression and the treatment of neuralgia. However, very toxic organic solvents are used to produce the GABA. Prof. Poelarends’s Vici research will develop new enzymatic synthesis routes to make producing this class of drugs greener, more sustainable and more efficient.

Poelarends has already performed tests on an enzyme that can perform the crucial step in the production process – the linking of the carbon atoms of two of the building blocks. The results of this research were published on 8 March 2016 in the journal Nature Communications.

Prof. Gerrit Jan Poelarends
Prof. Gerrit Jan Poelarends

Vici’s, grants for excellence
Vici grants are part of NWO’s Innovational Research Incentives Scheme (‘Vernieuwingsimpuls’) . NWO awards Vici grants on the basis of the researchers’ quality, the innovative nature, and academic impact of their research proposal. The Vici grants are intended for ‘excellent, experienced researchers who have successfully developed a new research line and thus established themselves prominently at both national and international levels’, says NWO.

The NWO is the national research council of the Netherlands. It funds thousands of top researchers at universities and institutes and steers the course of Dutch science by means of subsidies and research programmes.

More information

Contact prof.dr. Poelarends

Re-engineering a tiny enzyme , Science LinX, 8 March 2016

Nature Communications, 8 March, DOI 10.1038/NCOMMS10911.

Millions worth of grants for four Groningen top researchers
Last modified:17 February 2017 4.38 p.m.
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