Germany's third-largest chemicals company Degussa has won the Frost & Sullivan Product of the Year Award for its L-hydantoinase enzymatic process for single-step production of L-amino acids, used in the pharmaceutical, food and chemical industries.
Prior to the development of this technology, non-natural L-amino acids could only be obtained through a complex chemical process that consumed excessive amounts of energy and chemicals, according to Degussa.
Degussa developed its process in collaboration with Prof C Syldatk, a pioneer in the hydantoinase field at University of Stuttgart, and Prof F H Arnold, a chemistry professor at Caltech in the US. It is based on a whole cell biocatalyst that convert 5-monosubstituted hydantoins into either L- or D-amino acids in one reaction vessel. Not only is the process extremely efficient in generating the target amino acid, with 100 per cent yield, but it also provides a pure product with only the desired optical isomer.
"Proteinogenic L-amino acids made in this way have enormous advantages," said F&S analyst Dr Raju Adhikari. The process is easy, efficient and costs involved are minimal he added. "This has given Degussa enormous advantages over its competitors."
The process is commercially successful as well as scientifically elegant. Degussa has already won contracts to manufacture amino acids using L-hydantoinase enzymatic process and has several project tie-ups with both big and small pharmaceutical companies, said F&S.
The hopefuls in the competition were ranked based on specific measurement criteria that included degree of product innovation, product price and quality, estimated market penetration rate, acceptance of the product by intended users and competitive advantage of new product in industry.