Nailing down biocatalysts
Prague – Czech biotech company LentiKats AS has begun worldwide commercialisation of a patented, cost-effective encapsulation technology for use in the food and biopharmaceuticals industry. The company has discovered a way to immobilise biocatalysts as well as viable cells in a hydrogel matrix based on polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). Unlike PVA hydrogel capsules produced by cryo-gelation, LentiKat’s non-toxic polymer capsules are formed in a four-step process at room temperature, which garantuees minimal activity loss of biocatalysts. Compared with the agar-, alginate- and polyurethan-based matrices that are used in the industry to reduce shear stress, the novel encapsulation technique provides capsules with more mechanical robustness (module of elasticity 0.11 N/mm2), a feature that is important in stirred tank bioreactors. Encapsulating biocatalysts, cells or bacteria in porous hydrogel matrices allows repetitive use, thereby reducing costs for product separation in the pharmaceutical and food industries. The method has already been used for the production of precursors of semi-synthetic antibiotics, lactose-free milk and lactic acid.