The R&D activities of the company are focused on the development of methods and systems for the efficient identification and production of (biologically active) compounds. This includes:
- Composing high value enzyme libraries to develop new chemical entities of biological active compounds
- Development of application-orientated screening procedures
- Screening of libraries for specific biotransformations
- Isolation and production of the mutants with the desired bio-catalytic activity
- Production of drug-metabolites
- Bio-engineering of micro-organisms for the manufacturing of natural compounds
- Cloning and expression of terpene synthases.
The stereoselectivity of transformations obtained by biocatalysts makes them extremely powerful for enantio selective production of compounds.
An example of an R&D activity can be found by the terpenoids. They form the largest group of natural compounds and are one of the main areas of the company’s expertise. The founder of Sylphium Life Sciences, dr. Eelco Wallaart, elucidated the key steps of the biosynthetic pathway of the terpenoid artemisinin. Since artemisinin is the only anti-malarial drug to which also (chloroquine) resistant malaria parasites are sensitive this terpenoid became the drug of first choice in the fight against malaria. Wallaart wrote a number of publications and the patent “Transgenic amorpha-4,11-diene synthesis – WO0012725” in which the biotechnological applications of terpenoid biotechnology are demonstrated.
The patents “Transgenic amorpha-4,11-diene synthesis” are now owned by ” The Institute for One World Health”.
An other example is the construction of mutant libraries of P450 enzymes. In an project founded by the European community mutants of a variety of micro-organisms ware made. In this project also an assay was developed to screen for mutants with specific biocatalytic characteristics. In this way an hydroxyl group could be introduced in a molecule stereo-selectively and at a non reactive place.