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Biotransformation: learning Nature's art of unmaking drugs to sustainably make new drugs

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Gabrielle Davidson.

Biological systems of the human body as well as those of other living organisms are vastly experienced in the art of making biological molecules with utmost precision. They often employ enzymes as biological catalysts (biocatalysts) to construct simple to complex essential organic (bio)molecules. Importantly, when challenged with synthetic compounds such as pharmaceutical drugs or xenobiotics, there are specialized enzymatic systems to unmake and eliminate these drugs. This process involves efficient and selective enzymatic modification (biotransformation) of important structural component(s) of the foreign compounds, often making them inactive and readily excretable. The intriguing chemistry associated with this process as well as the chemical transformations catalysed by these enzymes are of great relevance in synthetic organic chemistry and can be developed and exploited for sustainable pharmaceutical synthesis. In this lecture, using examples from our lab, I will highlight the power of biocatalysis (enzymatic synthesis) in the sustainable synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs with a particular emphasis on chiral amine-based pharmaceuticals.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Science Society series.

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