Biocatalysis and Industrial Biotechnology - enzymes can catalyse reactions with exquisite selectivity and should be considered part of the synthetic chemists armoury. We work extensively with industry to develop highly selective biotransformations for accessing intermediates for pharmaceuticals and bio-derived polymers. We are currently developing and using enzymes in multistep reaction sequences to transform renewable feedstocks such as cellulose into bioplastics.
Key enzymes in our lab are: alcohol oxidases, aldehyde oxidase, hydrolyses for polyester synthesis and recycling, carboxyl methyl transferases.
Medicinal chemistry - we have synthesised inhibitors of an enzyme that is overexpressed in prostate cancer, AMACR, as potential drug leads. These have now become of interest in other areas of cancer as potential diagnostic probes and we are developing this area in collaboration with clinicians.
Asymmetric Catalysis - Using biocatalysis we have developed a novel approach to accessing bicylic [2.2.2] octadiene ligands used for asymmetric rhodium-catalysed adddition of aryl boronates to enones. This has enabled us to probe the electronic and steric effects of these ligand systems which lead to tunable ligands. We re now developing new phosphine ligands using enzymes for asymmetric homoconjugate additions.