Arran and AIT collaborate on green chemical production methods

The collaboration will facilitate on a four-year PhD scholarship to deliver greener and more economic alternatives to chemical production methods

Arran Chemical Company (Arran), a member of the Almac Group, has embarked on its second collaboration project with Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) to support a four-year PhD programme which will investigate a novel library of Laccase enzyme biocatalysts in oxidative green chemistry.

Leading the project is Hong Ann Gan, the 2020 recipient of AIT’s President’s Doctoral Scholarship award. Hong recently completed a BSc (Hons.) in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology at UCD achieving a First-Class Honours Degree and will commence the project in October. Hong will be jointly supervised by AIT’s Dr Sean Reidy and Dr Noreen Morris, Lecturers in Chemistry, in collaboration with Almac Sciences’ and Arran’s Professor Tom Moody, VP of Technology Development and Commercialisation and Dr Peter Cairns, Technical Manager.

This project is the second such academia and industry collaboration between the two in recent years

The project will focus on greener and more economic alternatives to chemical production methods for the synthesis of oxidative products which is currently under-resourced and studied. This technology will find application in both pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries.

Laccases are considered by many in the biotechnology field as the ultimate green catalyst owing to the myriad of functional transformations, broad substrate specificity and relative autonomy owing to the fact they only produce water as a by-product. In addition, the high stability, selectivity and mild reaction conditions make these enzymes particularly attractive as oxidative catalysts for chemical synthesis.

This Laccase project has the backing of Professor Moody, who said: “We are delighted to be supporting AIT once again and look forward to working together over the next four years. Almac will supply the college with all the necessary biocatalysts needed for this investigation and, of course, guidance and expertise from our specialists in this field. We wish Hong every success in his PhD project.”

Dr Reidy said: “This project has the exciting prospect of exposing both the student and supervisors to new and exciting areas of research. A collaboration with Arran Chemical Company, an established global chemical company with a wealth of experience which works with clients globally, will raise the profile of Athlone Institute of Technology as a base of R&D excellence and lead to further opportunities for collaborative research in the future.”

AIT has established strong links with Arran Chemical Company over many years and, together, have carried out a variety of projects on the synthesis and separation of chiral amines. This project is the second such academia and industry collaboration between the two in recent years. The first project was initiated last summer and focused on the use of biocatalysis in the asymmetric synthesis of chiral amines and diamines. Lauryn Bracken, a recipient of AIT’s President’s Doctoral Scholarship award (2019), is undertaking this work as part of her PhD studies.

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