Prof. Gerard Roelfes
has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant of EUR 2.5 million for his project ‘Designer enzymes featuring unnatural amino acids as catalytic residue’ (DENZUAC). In his project, Prof. Roelfes aims to create new ‘designer’ enzymes that feature unnatural amino acids as reactive group. For this, he will make use of technology that allows to expand the genetic code with unnatural amino acids. These novel enzymes will be applied for the catalysis of important chemical reactions that have no equivalent in nature.
Here is a summary of the proposal: Bio-catalysis, that is catalysis of chemical reactions by enzymes, is a key component of the transition to a more sustainable and ‘greener’ approach to Chemistry. However, natural enzymes catalyze only a limited set of reaction types, at least compared to what chemists can do. Part of this is related to the fact that natural enzymes are composed of only 20 amino acids, which limits the type of reactions they can do. The new enzymes created in this project will make it possible to carry out many more non-natural chemical reactions using bio-catalysis.
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