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Biosystems Technology

«Enzymatic reaction networks are unique in that a large number of different enzymatic reactions can be carried out simultaneously in one cell to produce chiral fine chemicals.»

Dr. Christin Peters, section leader

Nature has developed an immensely powerful system of cascade reactions that enables metabolic pathways within complex metabolic networks, and thus life. The living cell is essentially a single-vessel system that allows a broad variety of multistep enzymatic reactions in aqueous medium. In particular, cellular metabolism emphasizes the advantage of multistep cascade reactions: selective product formation is achieved despite principally absent separation of metabolic intermediates. Transferring the concept of multistep reactions to organic synthesis allows saving time, costs and waste compared to conventional step-by-step processes due to the elimination of intermediate purification steps. Often, cascade reactions can be used to increase the overall yield and improved the atomic balance. Highly significant advantages in comparison to step-by-step processes are demonstrated when handling toxic or unstable intermediates, which in cascades are directly converted into stable and non-toxic substances.

The combination of enzyme cascades along with synthetic biology makes it possible to design specific and excellent production strains that allow production of the desired substance in large scale. For this purpose, our research group has the possibility of up-scaling diverse processes up to 30 L fermentation.

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The projekt «Digitalization in Biofabrication» (35545.1 IP-LS) in collaboration with Prof. Donald Hilvert (ETH) and Prof. Mark Tibbitt (ETH) is supported by the impulse program.