Canadian Researchers Advance Key Enabling 'Green Chemistry' Process, Then Open Source It For the World

February 25 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Biotechnology   Year: General   Rating: 2


The vision of 'Green Chemisty' is to create the basic components used in making materials, energy, food and pharmaceuticals using sustainable practices, often without the use of petroleum based feedstocks.

Researchers from McGilll University have announced a breakthrough in a key enabling building block technology for 'green chemistry' that could not previously be explained by 'classical chemistry'.

The team led by Chemistry professor Chao-Jun (C.J.) Li discovered an entirely new way of synthesizing peptides by using simple reagents that will enable a lower cost method for building larger molecules. 

Peptides are short polymer chains that Mother Nature uses as a foundation for building proteins and other bio-materials.  

Creating a Simple, Low Cost Process
“Currently, to generate peptides you must use a peptide synthesizer, an expensive piece of high-tech equipment,” explained Li, Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry. “You need to purchase every single separate amino acid unit that makes up the peptide, and feed them into the machine one by one, which then assembles them. Every time you need a new peptide, you need to synthesize it individually from scratch.”

The team's process is based on 'a single, simple “skeleton” peptide which can be modified into any other peptide needed with the addition of a simple reagent.'

Open Innovation, Access to All
Not only has the team announced the process breakthrough, but it is taking the high road to advancing global efforts by opening the information to anyone.

“This is really an enabling new technology,” he added, “and since McGill has decided not to patent it, we’re making our method available to everyone. We are paying the journal’s open access fee, so anyone in the world can access the paper.”

Related Green Chemistry Posts:

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Chemists advance new theory to support next generation cleantech materials

Future of 'Green Chemistry': Researchers watch gases react with catalysts [Video]

Rice University licenses bioengineered E Coli that produces key ingredient for biomaterials



Press Release - Materials Sourced

Results will be published Feb. 27 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

Image Credit: Wikimedia

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