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My last musing went into the use of enzyme catalysis as an effective tool in the microwave toolbox. Although not used enough, there are some focused hotspots for lipases — but a concern that there hasn’t been more development. Ran into a recent publication (Molecules 2013) taking on this approach for synthetically value products in non-aqueous media.

If you know the field you have to accept some of the challenges that go along with the field: Low enzyme activity and that these enzymes are not being used for their natural substrates…..which often means a lot of experimentation — (who is going to screen and categorize for us?).

So this Chinese research team (from several different labs) added microwave to some of the things they learned from their conventional application — APE 1547 (a thermophilic esterase from the archaeon Aeropyrum pernix K1) selective esterification of Ibuprofen– from the baseline temperature and activity studies they applied the same temps, added a study of concentration and looked at enzyme activity and enantioselectivity.

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Enzyme activity and the enantioselectivity were increased about 21.9-fold and 1.4-fold, respectively. The results also indicated that APE 1547 can maintain 95% of its activity even after being used five times — very stable for multiple uses at 50C (5x without a loss in activity). Take home is that there is certainly a benefit to mw irradiation

Interestingly — and this may play into how difficult it is to understand the solubility, temp and time needed, is that the power for effective activity and selectivity indicated a bell curve for the power applied — lots of variables at play in this dynamic reaction. This group postulates increased solubility at a peak power, concentration for the observations – -could be…certainly leaves the door open for additional tuning.

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The remaining portion of the discussion in the article centers around pH and concentration — since it is an open access article — check it out and keep an open eye for enzyme approaches to an advanced intermediate that you may need to use during your research.

Happy Reading!