Johnson Matthey (JM), a specialty chemicals and sustainable technologies company, reports that it has partnered with Basecamp Research, which maps global biodiversity for computational biodesign applications, to accelerate the adoption of more sustainable, bio-based catalysts.

The partnership will focus on finding the right biocatalyst solutions that small molecule manufacturers can use for new product development. It will improve the quality and scope of biocatalysts available to the market, covering the most critical chemical transformations such as asymmetric reductions of ketones and chiral reductive amination, which are used to produce the fundamental building blocks in organic synthesis, according to officials at both companies.

Biocatalysts are increasingly being adopted due to the important role they play in helping meet the more prominent sustainability goals of the pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and fine chemical industries. Compared to traditional catalysis, they can be more selective, less energy intensive, and reduce the need for organic solvents.

Search for enzymes

One of the main hurdles to the widespread usage of biocatalysts in organic synthesis is the time-consuming search for suitable enzymes that deliver the desired catalytic performance. This typically involves multiple rounds of protein engineering and analysis.

flasks with red liquid
Johnson Matthey says it is partnering with Basecamp Research to be able to provide novel enzyme solutions that will benefit its customers in pharmaceutical drug development and fine chemical synthesis. [Oleksandra Yagello/Getty Images]
Basecamp Research has developed a knowledge graph of life on Earth with over six billion relationships between genes, genomes, environments, and other biologically relevant data. This biodiversity mapping tool, powered by AI-driven capabilities, is expected to drive the expansion of JM’s biocatalysis portfolio. Having new and diverse biocatalyst options can help reduce the development time and broaden the scope of applications.

JM has already licensed a broad substrate-scope active enzyme which was sampled from a natural source and selected by Basecamp Research. In compliance with the Nagoya Protocol, Basecamp has passed on royalties to a conservation organization near the location of where the enzyme was discovered.

“Over the last decade, Johnson Matthey has grown its biocatalysis capabilities to offer enzyme development, application, process intensification, scaleup, and bioprocessing,” said Elizabeth Rowsell, PhD, CTO at Johnson Matthey. “By partnering with Basecamp Research, we will be able to provide novel enzyme solutions that will benefit our customers in pharmaceutical drug developments and fine chemical synthesis.”

“Johnson Matthey is a pioneer in sustainable technologies with a strong expertise in catalysis and process chemistry,” added Oliver Vince, PhD, co-founder of Basecamp Research. “Their focus on biocatalysis speaks volumes to their forward-looking, sustainable innovation mindset. Combining Basecamp Research’s unique biodiscovery and bio-design AI platform with JM’s biocatalysis expertise, will help industry take novel products to market more efficiently and sustainably.”

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