About enzymes

INOFEA empowers enzymes. But what are they and why they are so important in the health industry?

The biochemical reactions need to be catalyzed to proceed at the pace required to sustain life. Enzymes are protein molecules that have evolved to perform efficiently under the mild conditions required to sustain the biological systems. Hence protein enzymes act as catalysts, being able to perform a wide range of chemical reactions. One of the main characteristics of enzymes is their high specificity. Enzyme specificity means that a biocatalyst is able to catalyze only certain reactions, a quality that makes a protein catalyst preferred over a chemical one.

Enzymes are often used as industrial catalysts in:

  • Processes where the specificity of the reaction is a major issue, like in pharmaceutical products or fine chemicals
  • Cases where the catalysis have to be active under mild conditions (organic synthesis)
  • When environmental restrictions are involved
  • When the label of natural products is an issue (like in consumer healthcare and cosmetic products).

Although enzymes have been naturally tailored to perform under physiological conditions (in vivo), the biocatalysis required by the industrial manufacturing of drug and healthcare products refers to the use of enzymes as process catalysts under artificial conditions (in vitro). This means that a major challenge in biocatalysis is to transform the physiological catalysts into process catalysts, able to perform an enzymatic reaction under the tough conditions of an industrial process. Enzymes have complex molecular structures that are extremely labile and costly to produce: a multitude of factors like acidity, temperature, the presence of chaotropic agents etc. can affect enzyme structure and properties and diminish their capability to act as biocatalyst, a process called enzyme denaturation.

This is why enzyme stabilization, INOFEA’s core business, is a prominent area of research in the biotech world. An immobilized enzyme is an enzyme that includes an attachment to another material or into aggregations which restricts the enzyme’s movements. Immobilization increases the stability of enzymes to changes in temperature and pH.
With our highly innovative enzzen® nanotechnology platform, we immobilize any enzyme or cocktail of enzymes, making them fitted for use under process conditions, hence empowering enzymes.