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Biocatalysts represent an efficient, highly selective and greener alternative to metal catalysts in both industry and academia. In the last two decades, the interest in biocatalytic transformations has increased due to an urgent need for more sustainable industrial processes that comply with the principles of green chemistry. Thanks to the recent advances in biotechnologies, protein engineering and the Nobel prize awarded concept of direct enzymatic evolution, the synthetic enzymatic toolbox has expanded significantly. In particular, the implementation of biocatalysts in continuous flow systems has attracted much attention, especially from industry. The advantages of flow chemistry enable biosynthesis to overcome well-known limitations of "classic" enzymatic catalysis, such as time-consuming work-ups and enzyme inhibition, as well as difficult scale-up and process intensifications. Moreover, continuous flow biocatalysis provides access to practical, economical and more sustainable synthetic pathways, an important aspect for the future of pharmaceutical companies if they want to compete in the market while complying with European Medicines Agency (EMA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and green chemistry requirements. This review focuses on the most recent advances in the use of flow biocatalysis for the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), pharmaceuticals and natural products, and the advantages and limitations are discussed.


Micol Santi, Luca Sancineto, Vanessa Nascimento, Juliano Braun Azeredo, Erika V M Orozco, Leandro H Andrade, Harald Gröger, Claudio Santi. Flow Biocatalysis: A Challenging Alternative for the Synthesis of APIs and Natural Compounds. International journal of molecular sciences. 2021 Jan 20;22(3)

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PMID: 33498198

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