Breakthrough in pharmaceuticals production with new enzyme discovery

Scientists have discovered a new enzyme that will make a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease cheaper and quicker to produce. Researchers at the Universities of Manchester and York found the enzyme in Aspergillus oryzae, a kind of fungus used for making soy sauce. The discovery, ‘A reductive aminase from Aspergillus oryzae’ was published in Nature Chemistry.

The enzyme’s greatest impact could be in a class of medications called monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. One such example of this kind of drug is Rasagiline, which helps Parkinson sufferers by increasing a substance in the brain that affects motor function. These substances help reduce the involuntary tremors that are associated with the condition. The medicine works in both early and advanced Parkinson’s, and is especially useful in dealing with non-motor symptoms of the condition, like fatigue.

The team, led by Professor Nick Turner, Professor of Chemical Biology from the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), have identified a new biocatalyst (RedAm) that accelerates a process called reductive amination.“This is a very exciting discovery from both a chemistry and pharmaceutical perspective. It is the first enzyme of its kind that has these properties and has the potential to improve the production of this and other important drugs.” Professor Nick Turner