Diversa has forged a new alliance for the discovery of bioacatalysts used for the manufacture of pharmaceutical intermediates and active ingredients.
Biocatalysts are used to simplify and lower the cost of a variety of chemical transformations and are of particular interest in manufacturing chiral compounds.
Organic compounds tend to exist in two forms - known as optical isomers - that are mirror images of each other. Chiral compounds, often referred to as being either left- or right-handed, are made up of just one of these structures. As there are can be significant differences in behaviour between chiral forms there has been a shift towards identifying which isomer has the best profile for drug development, and developing synthetic routes that produce only the desired version.
This has led to an increase market for tools used in their production. Biocatalysts are still a relatively minor sector of the chiral intermediates market, but are expected to grow in importance in the coming years.
A just-released study estimates that while the US market for technologies used in chiral manufacturing was around $986 million - with most but not all of this total accounted for by the drug industry - and 98 per cent of this total is for chiral intermediates. Biocatalysts account for a portion of the remaining 2 per cent, along with chemical catalysts and chiral auxiliaries.
Under the terms of the agreement, DPC will identify the chemical conversions it believes would benefit from using biocatalysts, and Diversa will design and develop them. Subsequently, DPC will scale-up these processes to manufacture pharmaceutical intermediates and active ingredients. Diversa will receive research and development payments and be entitled to milestones and royalties on products commercialised by DPC.
The new agreement, with DSM Pharma Chemicals of the Netherlands, comes just after a similar project between Diversa and BASF has yielded its first product .
"Biocatalysis has increasingly become the technology of choice to introduce chirality in fine-chemical processes,"said the two companies in a joint statement. The use of biocatalysts often leads to less complex syntheses, lower production costs, and more sustainable production processes.
DPC is one of the three business units of DSM Pharmaceutical Products, itself part of the €8 billion DSM group. The unit develops and produces pharmaceutical intermediates and active ingredients.