Prof. Dr. Roland Wohlgemuth
Roland Wohlgemuth is Senior Scientist at Sigma-Aldrich Switzerland. Prior to joining industry in 1983 to build up biochemistry at Fluka, which later has been acquired by Sigma-Aldrich, Roland Wohlgemuth did post-doctoral research at the University of California in Berkeley (1980 –1983) and at the Biocenter of the University of Basel (1979–1980). He obtained his Ph.D. in 1979 from the Biocenter of the University of Basel.
Industrial innovations at the biology-chemistry interface for research, applied and commercial applications represent important activities. Roland Wohlgemuth has started and is currently leading a global initiative on the synthesis and analysis of central and remote metabolites. Within this initiative the metabolites and enzymes of the carbohydrate metabolic pathways are of particular interest. The development of new methodo-logies for the analysis of small and large molecular weight carbohydrates and glycoconjugates is a prerequisite for further preparative work. In addition to glycosciences and metabolomics his research interests are in the application of enzymes in organic chemistry, protein analysis and bioanalytical technologies in general and specifically in the tailoring towards the instrumentation hard- and software. Industrial innovations at the biology-chemistry interface and their applications into the biomedical area are emerging activities.
Carbohydrates and enzymes: Renaissance of an old interface between chemistry, biology, engineering and medicine
Carbohydrate building blocks play key roles in central biochemical pathways like the vital functions of energy storage and energy usage in living cells. Carbon capture and carbon release reactions in aqueous systems are thereby of broad interest. The synthesis of carbohydrate metabolites has been of key importance as standards for metabolomics studies, for studying reactions in carbohydrate metabolic pathways and their regulation. The biochemical syntheses of these carbohydrate building blocks at the right time from the available raw materials in biological cells, tissues, organs and whole organisms are a master-piece in molecular economy. The structural diversity and information content, which can increase tremendously from simple chiral D- and L-glyceraldehydes, monosaccharide building blocks and activated monosaccharides to highly complex glycans, present however both analytical and synthetic challenges.
Selective enzymatic routes provide inspiration both for designing synthetic routes in chemistry as well as for designing analytical routes in biology. Carbohydrate meta-bolites have contributed to many areas of the healthcare and medicine sector from drug discovery and early development, metabolite production for preclinical & clinical studies to the active pharmaceutical ingredients in therapy. Newly developed biocatalytic tools have enabled the synthesis of a number of chiral carbohydrate metabolites with high step economy, which up to now have been difficult to access. The engineering of microreactors for the optimization of enzymatic reactions may open up new synthetic opportunities. The stability of the desired carbohydrate meta-bolites under the reaction and work-up process conditions and their subsequent storage stability is thereby of key importance. Newly developed analytical method-logies have not only been essential for these synthetic developments, but also for developing the required enzymes.
With systemic developments of both the analytical and synthetic frameworks the carbohydrate-active enzymes and carbohydrates will provide key advances.