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Large-Scale Production of Pharmaceutically Essential Nitroaromatics Using Non-Toxic Biocatalysts

Does Not Use Nitric Acid, Eliminates Environmental and Safety Hazards Associated With Production of Nitroaromatics

This nitration system produces large quantities of pharmaceutically relevant nitrated tryptophan and other nitroaromatics using biocatalysts. Nitrated tryptophan and other nitroaromatics are essential components of a wide variety of pharmaceuticals, including anti-cancer and anti-Parkinson drugs. The most common nitroaromatic, nitrobenzene, is valued at $9.3 billion globally, with a predicted increase in value of 5.6% from 2020 to 2027. Production of nitroaromatics classically requires environmentally hazardous nitric acid, creating safety concerns and generating large quantities of acidic waste. Advanced technologies enable nitration without nitric acid, but these nitration systems have not produced large enough quantities of nitroaromatics to be applicable in the pharmaceutical industry.


Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a nitration system that uses biocatalysts rather than nitric acid to produce large quantities of nitroaromatics at relatively low costs. This system is environmentally friendly and can be scaled to meet industrial pharmaceutical production requirements.




Efficient, industrial-scale production of nitroaromatics essential in pharmaceuticals using biocatalysts instead of environmentally-devastating nitric acid




  • Uses biocatalysts instead of nitric acid, eliminating the environmental and safety hazards associated with the production of nitroaromatics
  • Biocatalysts are more chemically selective than nitric acid, allowing for a wide variety of organic transformations to take place
  • Produces large quantities of nitroaromatics, enabling the process to be scaled to meet industrial pharmaceutical requirements


The nitration system is a whole-cell biocatalytic process that uses an engineered strain of E. coli containing a nitration biocatalyst, a nitric oxide synthase, and a glucose dehydrogenase to produce nitro tryptophan and other complex chemicals in large quantities. This system eliminates the need for nitric acid used in traditional chemical nitration systems and improves on other biocatalytic nitration systems by using an engineered strain of E. coli that includes a nitric oxide synthase gene, significantly reducing production costs.

Patent Information:
App Type: Patent No.: Patent Status:
ORD/UTIL 11,591,627 Issued