The uses of enzyme in industry

Any group of chemical substances which are produced by living cells and which cause particular chemical reactions to happen while not being changed themselves (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary) ffffAlso with the ability to catalyze certain reactions, make enzymes a very suitable in the making of specific products. Enzymes do this by lowering the activation level of the substrate that needs to broken down, this is useful as for certain compounds may not be need to broken be down in the substrate solutions so as enzymes are specific to one type of substrate it will only target the required substrate. The reason for lowering the activation level is useful because it then requires less energy for the reaction to take place thus lowering the price and time of reaction.

Enzymes are biodegradable and therefore cheaper to dispose of as expensive removal methods are not required. The majority work at obtainable temperatures neutral conditions and at atmospheric conditions, thus making them relatively low-cost to maintain.

Disadvantages of using enzymes in industry is that they need to be exceptionally hygienically clean to avoid contamination this is known as using aseptic techniques, slight changes in the delicate pH balance or temperature increase may lead to a possibility of rendering the enzyme batch useless. ghhgThey also are expensive to purify and unstable to in the purified state (AQA AS biology text book)

Enzymes such as these need to be produces in vast quantities to reach the great demand for them in industry. Enzymes are grown and cultured in an industrial fermenter, this occurs before they enter into full scale production Microorganisms such as fungus and bacteria produce enzymes naturally. To acquire the correct enzyme first we first have to find the correct organisms Micro-organisms have been proved to be a valuable source for many reasons; they produce a higher ratio of enzymes to their mass than other organisms.

Also because of this their product yield can be high, conditions can also be tweaked to reach optimum growth conditions. If there is any need for them to be genetically modified it is relatively easy to get a specific quality required. They can be grown in laboratories anywhere so they are not affected by outside environmental effects. The microorganism used must not have an offensive smell and there food must be simple and cheap enough to grow and finally they must have a high growth rate and enzyme production rate.

To create these conditions it is possible for us to provide an optimum environment, this includes correct temperature, correct pH balance and the right nutrients, and obviously the correct factors rely on which microorganism it is and which enzyme is required at the end of the process. After the correct enzyme is believed to be acquired a scientist will perform a tester experiment in the laboratory known as basic screening. If the enzyme output reaches all required levels the operation starts on industrial scale, this is knows as ‘scaling up’ This is a diagram of an industrial batch fermenter.

The solution inside is stirred regularly to make sure all the microorganisms come into to contacts with nutrients and air, the temperature and pH sensors are there to monitor levels to make sure it all stays stable and at an optimum environment. The cooling jacket is cooled by cool water entering at one end and leaving at another, this is necessary as the reactions from inside the fermenter are exothermic thus give of heat. Sterile air is input at towards the bottom of the fermenter to make sure that it gets to most of the solution as it moves up through the fermenter.

To obtain the enzymes from the fermenter it is necessary to filter them, once this has happened the enzymes are concentrated by removing the water. Antibacterial agents are added to prevent contamination from outside factors. A quality control check is implied to make sure that the enzymes are up to regulation quality. Then the final process is to package them and send them to industry or medicine. The company producing the product has a choice whether they want to use batch-fed fermentation of continuous fed fermentation; both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

The basic difference is that continuous doesn’t stop, the enzymes are filtered of during the process and more nutrients are added and batch fermentation does one batch at a time with enough nutrients and other necessary requirements, Enzymes do not have to be only used in breaking down a substrate into products, in many industrial and medicine cases they are used in bio sensors. As they are very specific in which substrate they work with, they will are able to detect a specific molecule with a various amount of other substrate in the solution.

Biosensors are devices that use biological molecules to detect other biological molecules or chemical substances. Typically antibodies or enzymes are coupled to microelectronics to enable their interactions with substances of interest to be monitored. The ability of biomolecules to react to very low concentrations of substances allows biosensors to be used in applications such as the monitoring of pollutants in water, air and soil, and in the detection of medically important molecules such as hormones, sugars and peptides in body fluids.

Biosensors can involve the use of whole organisms from fish to bacteria as the biological component. (http://www. biosensor. co. uk/) Enzymes have revolutionized medical methods, such as Viagra, although not usually used to treat life threatening diseases it can be used to overcome psychological problems which in someway can be just as devastating. ddddViagra is a small molecule that mimics the shape of cGMP, the natural substrate of the enzyme phosphodiesterase.

All enzymes possess what is known as an active site, which is where the chemical reaction controlled by the enzyme actually takes place. If that site is blocked somehow, for example by inserting a molecule that has a similar shape to the normal substrate but which cannot be broken down, then the enzyme is unable to work. When Viagra binds to phosphodiesterase, the enzyme is unable to break down cGMP, allowing it to accumulate in the blood. As Viagra targets one of the final steps in the pathway of erectile function (http://www. wellcome. ac. uk/en/genome/tacklingdisease/hg12f007. html)

The development for the use of enzymes in medicine has been extensive especially for application in industry, however we have not yet reached the potential of the enzyme industry, more extensive research will still reveal more revolutions in technology. Enzyme technology has been for round for along time such as pancreatic enzymes which have been used since the 19th centaury to treat digestive orders. At the moment the most successful applications are extra cellular mainly used for topical cases (e. g. a fungus on the skin), they are also used successfully used in the removal of toxic substances and helping blood circulation.

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