An EU-funded project is exploring techniques to produce key ingredients required for pharmaceuticals through more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly processes.

The EU-funded project Biocascades has in its sights novel methods to achieve ‘enzymatic reaction cascades’, a process used by the pharmaceutical and chemical industries to accelerate and improve chemical reactions. The process results in important compounds or ingredients for drugs and other products.

The project aims to achieve ‘one-pot’ reactions in which enzymes work on raw ingredients to synthesise compounds such as amino alcohols and pure amines that are key ingredients in many drugs used to treat a wide range of diseases.

By avoiding intermediate and purification steps, cascade reactions lower production costs and reduce energy demand and harmful waste. The development of these innovative processes will therefore address one of the main challenges facing the European pharmaceutical industry, enabling the deployment of sustainable and efficient production processes underpinned by ‘green chemistry’.

The cutting-edge research will support the career development of 11 early-stage researchers and generate new business opportunities for the small and medium-sized enterprises involved in the project.

The Biocascades training programme will provide the early-stage researchers with specific scientific and transferable skills for careers in the highly dynamic European biotechnology sector, backed by training at leading laboratories and secondments to industrial partners.

In turn, the project will help meet the demand of SMEs for young researchers with advanced skills in techniques such as biocatalysis, transition-metal catalysis, compartmentalisation, protein engineering and reaction engineering.

The Biocascades consortium is made up of leading academic laboratories focused on biocatalysis and protein engineering. The group is working with a network of five innovative biotech companies, bridging the gap between academia and industry and thereby generating employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The project is backed by the EU’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie programme as part of its Innovative Training Network (ITN) scheme for European industrial doctorates, which is designed to stimulate entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation in Europe.

Project details

  • Project acronym: Biocascades
  • Participants: Austria (coordinator), Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden
  • Project N°: 634200
  • Total costs: € 2,787,956
  • EU contribution: € 2,787,956
  • Duration: January 2015 to December 2018

Source: European Commission – Research & Innovation