Industrial Enzymatic Production of Cephalosporin-Based β-Lactams
Cephalosporins are chemically closely related to penicillins both work by inhibiting the cell wall synthesis of bacteria. The first generation cephalosporins entered the market in 1964. Second and third generation cephalosporins were subsequently developed that were more powerful than the original products. Fourth generation cephalosporins are now reaching the market. Each newer generation of cephalosporins has greater Gram-negative antimicrobial properties than the preceding generation. Conversely, the ‘older’ generations of cephalosporins have greater Gram-positive (Staphylococcus and Streptococcus) coverage than the ‘newer’ generations. Frequency of dosing decreases and palatability generally improve with increasing generations. The advent of fourth generation cephalosporins with the launch of cefepime extended the spectrum against Gram-positive organisms without a significant loss of activity towards Gram-negative bacteria. Its greater stability to β-lactamases increases its efficacy against drug-resistant bacteria.
In this review we present the current situation of this mature market. In addition, we present the current state of the technologies employed for the production of cephalosporins, focusing on the new and environmentally safer ‘green’ routes to the products. Starting with the fermentation and purification of CPC, enzymatic conversion in conjunction with aqueous chemistry will lead to some key intermediates such as 7-ACA, TDA and TTA, which then can be converted into the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), again applying biocatalytic technologies and aqueous chemistry. Examples for the costing of selected products are provided as well.
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