Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

bdaily meets Nzomics, pioneering new green enzyme technology

Nzomics Biocatalysis was born out of a conversation between Gary Black and his colleague Justin Perry in 2005.

“Lots of drugs are made by chemical synthesis, but by using enzymes to create them it is a far more environmentally friendly process,” he said, “but not many companies businesses were doing it, so we decided to branch into the market.”

Nzomics specialises in making enzymes and biocatalysts for the pharmaceuticals industry, a process that has been greatly helped by the availability of DNA sequences online. “Justin’s a chemist by trade, and I’m a molecular biologist, so it seemed like a good opportunity to pool our knowledge.”

Currently Nzomics is operating in a relatively niche market because pharmaceutical companies generally favour more traditional methods of production, though Gary is keen to convince them otherwise.

“Lots of chemists don’t get genomics because they are often not working at the cutting edge of science, and it can be difficult to change their views. Often clients have invested millions in equipment and training so are reluctant to replace traditional pharmaceutical methods.

However, Gary has noticed a change over the past two years: “People are really beginning to embrace the idea,” he said.

This increase in demand is forcing Gary to spend more time on Nzomics projects, which require him to take time out from his job as a lecturer in molecular biology at Northumbria University.

“The University is supportive, and allows me to buy time out of my lecturing duties to complete projects,” he said, “Now the company is relatively successful, I’d say I spend between 25 and 50 percent of my time working on Nzomics.”

Fortunately for Gary, Northumbria are supportive of the project, and the business itself is based on campus. “ We would like to spread out and move out of the university, but for the moment the equipment we require is too expensive to buy and maintain.“

Looking ahead, Gary is eventually hoping to expand the company. “Businesses are coming out of the recession, and are now starting to invest in research and development again, and in light of this demand, we will eventually be looking to employ more staff.

“You can do almost anything with enzymes, so it will be very exciting to see what direction genomics goes in.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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