Scientists of EUCODIS Bioscience and the Norwegian University of Life Science teamed up for enzyme identification and production within the scope of the ChitoTex Project (lead: Fraunhofer Institute, Stuttgart). This project is aiming to establish an environmentally friendly process for the utilization of a waste stream (insect chitin) for novel applications like chitosan in the textile industry.
Chitosan is a polysaccharide that can be used as sizing agent in the textile industry for improving the weaving process of common yarns and fabrics. This polysaccharide can be produced using insect chitin as a source. Our scientists aimed to identify enzymes to function as biocatalysts replacing commonly applied strong acid-strong base-processes in the chitosan production.
One of the key features of chitin is its crystalline structure causing its resistance against dissolving agents. The degradation of these recalcitrant polysaccharides in a biocatalytic manner requires the combined action of several enzymes. Recent studies suggested enzymes containing more than one catalytic domain to be particularly powerful in the degradation of these polysaccharides.
Using bioinformatics and biochemical analyses, a team around Vincent G. H. Eijsink from the Norwegian University of Life Science together with scientists from the research department of EUCODIS have identified a unique bacterial tri-modular enzyme combining two different polysaccharide-degrading modules. The intramolecular synergy of a lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase with hydrolytic enzyme activities was shown to be efficient for the degradation of chitin.
This and other enzymes identified by the ChitoTex project can be used for very specific reactions types breaking up the structure of chitin or modifying chitin and chitosan for different applications in pharma, cosmetics and textile industry. EUCODIS Bioscience is currently evaluating how to use these enzymes in different applications, and is therefore interested in industrial collaborations regarding applications of chitin/chitosan enzymes.
More information about the research can be read here:
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