Accelerating syntheses with natural and engineered biocatalysts

Our expertise in biocatalysis enables us to identify and apply natural and engineered enzymes to accelerate our customers’ syntheses, enabling them to realise enhanced efficiency in a sustainable and scalable way.

Biocatalysis at Sterling

The use of biocatalysts in the pharmaceutical industry is rapidly expanding, as they offer compelling advantages like improved efficiency, reduced costs, customisation capabilities, and enhanced sustainability. At Sterling, we combine more than 50 years’ expertise in complex chemistries, decades of experience working with enzymes, and partnerships with leading academic institutions to apply biocatalysis in our customers’ programmes.

By recycling or reusing bound enzymes we are improving process efficiency and value at a 1000kg scale. We are constantly working to expand our biocatalysis offerings, and by working with our industrial contacts, we ultimately aim to develop and offer a proprietary database of enzymes to our customers. This will enable us to perform initial screenings and offer cGMP manufacture at the tonne scale in-house. ... Read more

Following are some of the things that contribute to our strength in biocatalysis:  

  • Expert partners: We work with Northumbria University and the University of Leeds to develop and expand our capabilities in biocatalysis.
  • Comprehensive services: Our biocatalysis capabilities include rapid enzyme screening, directed evolution, and enzyme immobilisation to support a robust programme.
  • Ongoing development: While we are currently capable of handling biocatalysis reactions at the 1000kg scale, we are actively working to scale up this capability.
  • Focused on sustainability: Through enzyme immobilisation and recycling, we enable our clients to embrace green chemistry principles, mitigate waste, and control costs.
  • Intellectual ownership: We provide our customers full ownership of their intellectual property.Read less

Key Benefits

Enhanced efficiency:

As its name suggests, biocatalysis’ chief benefit remains its ability to dramatically accelerate syntheses of all kinds.


Through directed evolution and protein engineering, scientists can tailor and optimise enzymes for a particular process or synthesis.

Environmental sustainability:

Through enzyme immobilisation and recycling, biocatalysis enables the reduction of wastage and adheres to multiple green chemistry principles.

Cost control:

Whilst enzymes can come with up-front costs, enzymatic recycling helps to contain costs. In addition, biocatalysis occurs under mild conditions to produce less waste.

Dedicated partnerships for a best-in-class biocatlaysis approach

Our work in Biocatalysis is supported by our Technology and Innovation Programme, through which we work with leading academic institutions to apply emerging technologies. Our partnerships with Northumbria University, the University of Leeds, and other industry partners powerfully augment and extend our capabilities in Biocatalysis.

Northumbria University

Through our partnership with Northumbria University and our work with their Nzomics business unit, we have developed our services around rapid enzyme screening, directed evolution, enzyme immobilisation, and utilising enzymes in continuous and semi-continuous processing.

University of Leeds

The University of Leeds’ Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecules to Product supports our work in enzyme immobilisation, helping our customers embrace enzymatic recycling to realise significant manufacturing advantages.

Biocatalysis is growing rapidly in the pharmaceutical industry, and our partnerships, equipment, and expertise in this technology enable us to support a wide range of project requirements. Because biocatalysis can provide such utility to our customers, it is a key area of innovation for Sterling—we are intently focused on continuing to improve and expand our offerings. Greg Holgate | KTP Associate

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