MANHATTAN, Kan., June 23 (UPI) — A U.S. chemical engineer says he’s developed a way to make all-natural personal care products and purer pharmaceuticals in the laboratory.
Kansas State University Professor Peter Pfromm, in collaboration with former visiting doctoral student Kerstin Wurges, said he has engineered a way to use enzymes to efficiently catalyze chemical reactions to create such products as scents for perfumes or to avoid the introduction of inactive ingredients in drugs.
He said the process is essentially an enzyme-covered nanoparticle of fumed silica. Since enzymes come from natural organisms, the end product can be billed as natural, Pfromm said.
He said enzymes also can be used to make a purer form of pharmaceuticals, noting the active molecules in many drugs often come with an inactive twin. However, enzymes are very effective at only producing the active version of the molecule.
“Most of the time the inactive twin molecule is harmless, but there is a trend toward making more pure pharmaceuticals,” Pfromm said. “Enzymes are exceedingly good at taking reactants and making them into only one of the versions, not both. They are supremely selective in this way; chemical catalysts are not.”
Wurges, listed as a co-inventor on the process patent, worked with Pfromm on devising the preparation and did much of the lab work. She is presently pursing her doctorate at the Julich Research Center in Germany.
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