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TEKNOKONVERGENS-Teknologikonvergens - grensesprengende forskning og radikal innovasjon

Integrated Catalyst Discovery for Biotechnology

Alternative title: Integrert katalysatorutvikling for bioteknologi

Awarded: NOK 20.0 mill.

Advanced functional molecules are essential to meet global sustainability goals for the 21st century. Novel therapeutics are urgently needed to meet health demands. Similarly, powerful new catalysts (compounds that speed up chemical reactions but are themselves not consumed) are essential for assembly of such structures, and for sustainable chemical production. However, the number of possible chemical compounds, the so-called “chemical space”, is unfathomably vast, and our capacity to discover new functional molecules is constrained by the efficiency with which we can navigate this space. To address this problem, iCat4Bio unites powerful computational and experimental methods in an integrated platform. This platform, created by the convergence of technology for manipulation of atoms (nanotechnology) and bits (information and communication technology), will create capabilities for the discovery of new molecules in as-yet unchartable regions of chemical space. Essential to drive development, and to showcase the integrated platform, is an appropriately demanding, high-profile challenge. We will focus on catalyst discovery: specifically, catalysts for olefin metathesis. This class of chemical reactions, sometimes likened to "a dance in which the couples change partners", is the most powerful, versatile methodology known for the assembly of molecular carbon frameworks. This catalytic methodology holds enormous, but incompletely realized, potential for sustainable production of advanced organic molecules, including in pharmaceutical manufacturing and chemical biology. Showcase applications address important, high-reward goals in olefin metathesis for chemical biology, which will open new opportunities in the synthesis and screening of next-generation therapeutics.

Advanced functional molecules are essential to meet global sustainability goals for the 21st century. Novel therapeutics are urgently needed to meet known and unforeseen health demands, for example, while powerful new catalysts are essential for assembly of such structures, and for the broader obligations of sustainable chemical production. Our capacity to discover new functional molecules, however, is constrained by the efficiency with which we can navigate an unfathomably vast chemical space. Proposed is a powerful union of computational and experimental methods: that is, virtual and experimental “self-driving” laboratories created by the convergence of technology for manipulation of atoms (nanotechnology) and bits (information and communication technology). Their union will create capabilities for the discovery of new molecules in as-yet unchartable regions of chemical space. Essential to drive development, and to showcase the integrated platform, is an appropriately demanding, high-profile challenge. This aspect of the project will focus on catalyst discovery: specifically, olefin metathesis, as an exemplary catalytic methodology with Nobel-flagged potential for sustainable production of advanced organic molecules, and tremendous, but incompletely realized potential in pharmaceutical manufacturing and chemical biology. Catalyst discovery offers a demanding test because such molecules typically contain at least one transition-metal atom, resulting in geometric and electronic degrees of freedom far beyond those of organic molecules. The resulting breadth of electronic and geometric structures has severely retarded the development of computational methods for their treatment, while experimental navigation is limited by current chemical knowledge and intuition. Showcase applications address important, high-reward goals in olefin metathesis for chemical biology, which will open up new opportunities in the synthesis and screening of next-generation therapeutics.

Funding scheme:

TEKNOKONVERGENS-Teknologikonvergens - grensesprengende forskning og radikal innovasjon