Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

COLDZYME: enzymes for washing powders that are active at low temperatures

Enzymes found in Antarctic bacteria can be used both in industrial applications and in domestic products such as washing powder as they active at low temperatures thus giving huge energy savings. Washing machines would no longer need heating elements, for example. Other applications for low-temperature enzymes include contact lens cleansing, biosensors for environmental monitoring and indeed environmental depollution. There are also a variety of potential uses for cold active enzymes in the pharmaceutical industries or in food processing, particularly in the dairy sector. Enzymes secreted by bacteria collected in the Alps and Antarctica are being. isolated and characterized. In order to carry out its catalytic function, a protein molecule must remain flexible. These enzymes are folded in such a way that they stay flexible at temperatures at which those produced by normal bacteria stop working, This characteristic can be used to engineer low-temperature activity into other enzymes. The psychrophilic bacteria themselves are also being studied with a view to using them as 'cell factories' to produce large quantities of genetically-engineered cold-active enzymes. Novel biotechnologies may also develop from certain enzymes that show new specificities when operated cold. For some compounds, specific isomers could be produced by running bio-transformations at lower temperatures, changing or improving the purity of the product. Crystallizing enzymes that degrade starch and protein has already been successfully completed and nuclear magnetic resonance facilities are being used to analyse protein flexibility with a view to producing cold-water washing powder.

Reported by

University of London
London
United Kingdom
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