Química Nova, Volume: 36, Issue: 10, Published: 2013
  • Química sem fronteiras

    Pinto, Angelo C.; Zucco, Cezar; Galembeck, Fernando; Andrade, Jailson B. de; Catalani, Luiz H.; Vieira, Paulo C.
  • Chemistry and sustainability: new frontiers in biofuels

    Mota, Claudio J. A.; Monteiro, Robson S.

    Abstract in English:

    This contribution discusses the state of the art and the challenges in producing biofuels, as well as the need to develop chemical conversion processes of CO2 in Brazil. Biofuels are sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels for providing energy, whilst minimizing the effects of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Ethanol from fermentation of simple sugars and biodiesel produced from oils and fats are the first-generation of biofuels available in the country. However, they are preferentially produced from edible feedstocks (sugar cane and vegetable oils), which limits the expansion of national production. In addition, environmental issues, as well as political and societal pressures, have promoted the development of 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels. These biofuels are based on lignocellulosic biomass from agricultural waste and wood processing, and on algae, respectively. Cellulosic ethanol, from fermentation of cellulose-derived sugars, and hydrocarbons in the range of liquid fuels (gasoline, jet, and diesel fuels) produced through thermochemical conversion processes are considered biofuels of the new generation. Nevertheless, the available 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels, and those under development, have to be subsidized for inclusion in the consumer market. Therefore, one of the greatest challenges in the biofuels area is their competitive large-scale production in relation to fossil fuels. Owing to this, fossil fuels, based on petroleum, coal and natural gas, will be around for many years to come. Thus, it is necessary to utilize the inevitable CO2 released by the combustion processes in a rational and economical way. Chemical transformation processes of CO2 into methanol, hydrocarbons and organic carbonates are attractive and relatively easy to implement in the short-to-medium terms. However, the low reactivity of CO2 and the thermodynamic limitations in terms of conversion and yield of products remain challenges to be overcome in the development of sustainable CO2 conversion processes.
  • Innovation & industrial property & the chemicals industry

    Antunes, Adelaide Maria de Souza

    Abstract in English:

    ABSTRACT The main aim of this paper was to contribute to reflections in Brazil on the need to transfer knowledge held at universities and R&D institutions over to companies, i.e. to transfer scientific knowledge of chemistry to technology. It discusses how the competitiveness of countries is increasingly dependent on their technological capacity. The chemicals industry is a fundamental driver of social, environmental, economic and industrial indicators of sustainable development. In Brazil, the chemicals industry's deficit has grown over the last three decades. Patents are important sources of information because patent documents contain 75% of all technological information available. The National Institute of Industrial Property in Brazil has created a Technology Observatory with the purpose of identifying and analyzing technological information contained in patent documents within the ambit of partnerships with government entities or business associations, in order to support their technology-related decision-making processes. The paper gives examples of ethanol and biotechnology patent documents, including pharmaceuticals, of which there are very few in Brazil. However, a few of the patent applications identified are filed in Brazil, giving the country the opportunity to transform this scientific knowledge into technology by means of partnership agreements with companies. Finally, the paper presents information on the patent applications filed by the world's leading chemicals companies as measured by their revenues, and the respective numbers of patent applications in the last five years in organic chemistry and polymers, sectors in which Brazil is currently dependent on imports for over 50% of its needs. The patent assignees in these sectors in Brazil are also identified, and the paper concludes that Brazil needs to invest in the development of professionals, providing clearly-defined career paths in technology innovation teams at R&D institutions, and to foster more initiatives such as the creation of a new research and innovation entity, EMBRAPII, since investing in science and technology is a prerequisite for knowledge production, industrial property, economic development and, consequently, the competitiveness of the country.
  • Oceanography and Chemistry: bridging knowledge in favor of the oceans and society

    Hatje, Vanessa; Costa, Mônica Ferreira da; Cunha, Letícia Cotrim da

    Abstract in English:

    The marine environment is certainly one of the most complex systems to study, not only because of the challenges posed by the nature of the waters, but especially due to the interactions of physical, chemical and biological processes that control the cycles of the elements. Together with analytical chemists, oceanographers have been making a great effort in the advancement of knowledge of the distribution patterns of trace elements and processes that determine their biogeochemical cycles and influences on the climate of the planet. The international academic community is now in prime position to perform the first study on a global scale for observation of trace elements and their isotopes in the marine environment (GEOTRACES) and to evaluate the effects of major global changes associated with the influences of megacities distributed around the globe. This action can only be performed due to the development of highly sensitive detection methods and the use of clean sampling and handling techniques, together with a joint international program working toward the clear objective of expanding the frontiers of the biogeochemistry of the oceans and related topics, including climate change issues and ocean acidification associated with alterations in the carbon cycle. It is expected that the oceanographic data produced this coming decade will allow a better understanding of biogeochemical cycles, and especially the assessment of changes in trace elements and contaminants in the oceans due to anthropogenic influences, as well as its effects on ecosystems and climate. Computational models are to be constructed to simulate the conditions and processes of the modern oceans and to allow predictions. The environmental changes arising from human activity since the 18th century (also called the Anthropocene) have made the Earth System even more complex. Anthropogenic activities have altered both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and the legacy of these impacts in the oceans include: a) pollution of the marine environment by solid waste, including plastics; b) pollution by chemical and medical (including those for veterinary use) substances such as hormones, antibiotics, legal and illegal drugs, leading to possible endocrine disruption of marine organisms; and c) ocean acidification, the collateral effect of anthropogenic emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere, irreversible in the human life time scale. Unfortunately, the anthropogenic alteration of the hydrosphere due to inputs of plastics, metal, hydrocarbons, contaminants of emerging concern and even with formerly "exotic" trace elements, such us rare earth elements is likely to accelerate in the near future. These emerging contaminants would likely soon present difficulties for studies in pristine environments. All this knowledge brings with it a great responsibility: helping to envisage viable adaptation and mitigation solutions to the problems identified. The greatest challenge faced by Brazil is currently to create a framework project to develop education, science and technology applied to oceanography and related areas. This framework would strengthen the present working groups and enhance capacity building, allowing a broader Brazilian participation in joint international actions and scientific programs. Recently, the establishment of the National Institutes of Science and Technology (INCTs) for marine science, and the creation of the National Institute of Oceanographic and Hydrological Research represent an exemplary start. However, the participation of the Brazilian academic community in the latest assaults on the frontier of chemical oceanography is extremely limited, largely due to: i. absence of physical infrastructure for the preparation and processing of field samples at ultra-trace level; ii. limited access to oceanographic cruises, due to the small number of Brazilian vessels and/or absence of "clean" laboratories on board; iii. restricted international cooperation; iv. limited analytical capacity of Brazilian institutions for the analysis of trace elements in seawater; v. high cost of ultrapure reagents associated with processing a large number of samples, and vi. lack of qualified technical staff. Advances in knowledge, analytic capabilities and the increasing availability of analytical resources available today offer favorable conditions for chemical oceanography to grow. The Brazilian academic community is maturing and willing to play a role in strengthening the marine science research programs by connecting them with educational and technological initiatives in order to preserve the oceans and to promote the development of society.
  • Chemistry in agriculture: perspectives for the development of sustainable technologies

    Pinto-Zevallos, Delia M.; Zarbin, Paulo H. G.

    Abstract in English:

    Food production and preservation of the environment are among the challenges faced by contemporary society. In Brazil, as in most parts of the world, the possibility of increasing the agricultural area is limited by several factors. Thus, an increase in productivity through the application of innovative technologies is regarded as the best solution to overcome such a problem. For long, chemistry has contributed to agricultural innovations such as synthetic pesticides for pest management. However, due to the well-known adverse effects of these compounds, new "greener" strategies are being explored. Research in chemical ecology, in combination with other emerging sciences, is leading to the development of new technologies such as plant-based pesticides (biopesticides); synthetic pheromones and plant volatile organic compounds, both of them to manipulate insect behavior; chemical elicitors to boost plant resistance; and genetic engineering of plant varieties. In these, chemistry plays an important role in the identification and synthesis of functional compounds. These techniques may be incorporated in integrated pest management programs and may contribute to a sustainable agriculture in the future.
  • Carbohydrates as a source of compounds for fine chemical industry

    Ferreira, Vitor Francisco; Silva, Fernando de Carvalho da; Ferreira, Patricia Garcia

    Abstract in English:

    Coal, oil, natural gas, and shale gas are biomass that is formed millions of years ago. These are non-renewable and depleting, even considering the recent discovery of new sources of oil in the presalt and new technologies for the exploitation of shale deposits. Currently, these raw materials are used as a source of energy production and are also important for the production of fine chemicals. Since these materials are finite and their (oil) price is increasing, it is clear that there will be a progressive increase in the chemical industry to use renewable raw materials as a source of energy, an inevitable necessity for humanity. The major challenge for the society in the twenty first century is to unite governments, universities, research centers, and corporations to jointly act in all areas of science with one goal of finding a solution to global problems, such as conversion of biomass into compounds for the fine chemical industry.Non-renewable raw materials are used in the preparation of fuels, chemical intermediates, and derivatives for the fine chemical industry. However, their stock in nature has a finite duration, and their price is high and will likely increase with their depletion. In this scenario, the alternative is to use renewable biomass as a replacement for petrochemicals in the production of fine chemicals. As the production of biomass-based carbohydrates is the most abundant in nature, it is judicious to develop technologies for the generation of chain products (fuels, chemical intermediates, and derivatives for the fine chemicals industry) using this raw material. This paper presents some aspects and opportunities in the area of carbohydrate chemistry toward the generation of compounds for the fine chemical industry.
  • Impact of nanotechnology on public health: production of medicines

    Dimer, Frantiescoli A.; Friedrich, Rossana B.; Beck, Ruy C. R.; Guterres, Sílvia S.; Pohlmann, Adriana R.

    Abstract in English:

    Several studies have described the benefits of nanoscience and nanotechnology (N&N) in different sectors such as agriculture, energy, environmental preservation, and public health. The rapid evolution of N&N can be shown through a panoramic analysis of scientific papers and patents. In the area of public health, it is estimated that the global market for nanotechnology products will expand to 160 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. The Brazilian government has also strengthened its innovative potential in N&N through economic subsidies, as observed for other countries. This review is focused on the current landscape of N&N in a therapeutic context, highlighting the development of nanotech-products produced with biocompatible and biodegradable materials that are already commercially available or under investigation. Most studies under investigation are focused on the development of nanotechnology-based formulations intended for treatment of cancer, inflammatory, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases. Although there are several advantages of N&N in healthcare, many challenges have to be conquered to increase the availability of nanotechnology products in toxicological, preclinical and clinical studies, scale-up, regulatory, and private investments.
  • Panorama of the intellectual property, technology transfer and innovation for the Brazilian chemistry and comparison with the BRIC countries

    Sinisterra, Rubén Dario; Speziali, Marcelo Gomes; Guimarães, Pedro Pires Goulart; Silva, Alice Machado da

    Abstract in English:

    Based on Science, Technology & Innovation (ST&I) indicators, Brazil is a competitive and interesting country from the point of view of technological foreign investment. However, it is still incipient with regard to national investments, production of technological knowledge, inbound mobility of scientists and technology transfer to the productive sector. Among many other factors, global patent production is considered as an important indicator of innovation. Likewise, the balance between revenue and expenses obtained through royalties and licensing fees of technologies is also critical in mapping the diffusion and absorption of knowledge. The understanding of intellectual property and its strategic management brings a significant advantage to the economic and technological development of nations, especially in the field of chemistry, which greatly contributes to biotechnology, new materials and microelectronics - three fundamental areas for innovation in developed countries. Therefore, this article aims to map out competencies in chemistry in Brazil and evaluate science, technology and innovation indicators in the country, comparing this dynamic to the one of other BRIC members (Russia, India and China). Chemistry is the fourth biggest field of interest in Brazil based on the number of researchers registered at the governmental platform for researchers, Plataforma Lattes/CNPq, and is preceded by education, medicine and agronomy. The majority of research groups are registered in the area of materials, followed by macromolecules and polymers, pharmaceutical products and basic materials chemistry. These groups represent approximately 77% of research groups analyzed, therefore, indicating a tendency in the country. The analyses of patents in different sub-areas of chemistry reveal that non-residents file most deposits in the country, a probable reflection of the low internal intellectual property culture. Pharmaceutics and Fine Chemistry are prominent areas in the country, in line with the global trend. Among BRIC countries, China has the highest number of patents and of requests for protection in international offices. On the other hand, Brazil has the lowest number of chemical patents published at USPTO, EPO and JPO. An analysis of the transfer of technology data indicates an increase in this activity in various sub-areas of chemistry in the country. Despite the great efforts made by the country to consolidate its national innovation system, more needs to be done to put Brazil in a competitive position. In a globalized world dominated by large players, Brazil needs a lot of progress on ownership and generation of chemistry technologies to strengthen its national sovereignty. It is essential to strengthen chemical research at all levels, from elementary school to university, as an inexhaustible source of knowledge and technology that, when properly protected, may generate real public achievement and social return.
  • Carbon nanostructures (nanotubes and graphene): Quo Vadis?

    Zarbin, Aldo J. G.; Oliveira, Marcela M.

    Abstract in English:

    We describe general considerations about the present and the future standing of carbon nanostructures, mainly carbon nanotubes and graphene. Basic concepts and definitions, select structure/property relationships, and potential applications are reviewed. The analysis of the global market for these nanostructures, the commercial products available currently, the role of the chemistry, the main challenges remaining and a brief view of the field in Brazil are also presented and discussed.
  • Chemistry without borders: the energy challenges

    Rocha, Gisele Olímpio da; Andrade, Jailson Bittencourt de; Guarieiro, Aline Lefol Nani; Guarieiro, Lílian Lefol Nani; Ramos, Luiz Pereira

    Abstract in English:

    Coal, natural gas and petroleum-based liquid fuels are still the most widely used energy sources in modern society. The current scenario contrasts with the foreseen shortage of petroleum that was spread out in the beginning of the XXI century, when the concept of "energy security" emerged as an urgent agenda to ensure a good balance between energy supply and demand. Much beyond protecting refineries and oil ducts from terrorist attacks, these issues soon developed to a portfolio of measures related to process sustainability, involving at least three fundamental dimensions: (a) the need for technological breakthroughs to improve energy production worldwide; (b) the improvement of energy efficiency in all sectors of modern society; and (c) the increase of the social perception that education is a key-word towards a better use of our energy resources. Together with these technological, economic or social issues, "energy security" is also strongly influenced by environmental issues involving greenhouse gas emissions, loss of biodiversity in environmentally sensitive areas, pollution and poor solid waste management. For these and other reasons, the implementation of more sustainable practices in our currently available industrial facilities and the search for alternative energy sources that could partly replace the fossil fuels became a major priority throughout the world. Regarding fossil fuels, the main technological bottlenecks are related to the exploitation of less accessible petroleum resources such as those in the pre-salt layer, ranging from the proper characterization of these deep-water oil reservoirs, the development of lighter and more efficient equipment for both exploration and exploitation, the optimization of the drilling techniques, the achievement of further improvements in production yields and the establishment of specialized training programs for the technical staff. The production of natural gas from shale is also emerging in several countries but its production in large scale has several problems ranging from the unavoidable environmental impact of shale mining as well as to the bad consequences of its large scale exploitation in the past. The large scale use of coal has similar environmental problems, which are aggravated by difficulties in its proper characterization. Also, the mitigation of harmful gases and particulate matter that are released as a result of combustion is still depending on the development of new gas cleaning technologies including more efficient catalysts to improve its emission profile. On the other hand, biofuels are still struggling to fulfill their role in reducing our high dependence on fossil fuels. Fatty acid alkyl esters (biodiesel) from vegetable oils and ethanol from cane sucrose and corn starch are mature technologies whose market share is partially limited by the availability of their raw materials. For this reason, there has been a great effort to develop "second-generation" technologies to produce methanol, ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, biogas (methane), bio-oils, syngas and synthetic fuels from lower grade renewable feedstocks such as lignocellulosic materials whose consumption would not interfere with the rather sensitive issues of food security. Advanced fermentation processes are envisaged as "third generation" technologies and these are primarily linked to the use of algae feedstocks as well as other organisms that could produce biofuels or simply provide microbial biomass for the processes listed above. Due to the complexity and cost of their production chain, "third generation" technologies usually aim at high value added biofuels such as biojet fuel, biohydrogen and hydrocarbons with a fuel performance similar to diesel or gasoline, situations in which the use of genetically modified organisms is usually required. In general, the main challenges in this field could be summarized as follows: (a) the need for prospecting alternative sources of biomass that are not linked to the food chain; (b) the intensive use of green chemistry principles in our current industrial activities; (c) the development of mature technologies for the production of second and third generation biofuels; (d) the development of safe bioprocesses that are based on environmentally benign microorganisms; (e) the scale-up of potential technologies to a suitable demonstration scale; and (f) the full understanding of the technological and environmental implications of the food vs. fuel debate. On the basis of these, the main objective of this article is to stimulate the discussion and help the decision making regarding "energy security" issues and their challenges for modern society, in such a way to encourage the participation of the Brazilian Chemistry community in the design of a road map for a safer, sustainable and prosper future for our nation.
  • Neglected tropical diseases: a new era of challenges and opportunities

    Dias, Luiz C.; Dessoy, Marco A.; Guido, Rafael V. C.; Oliva, Glaucius; Andricopulo, Adriano D.

    Abstract in English:

    In an article recently published in Química Nova, entitled "Chemistry Without Borders" ("Química Sem Fronteiras") [Pinto, A. C.; Zucco, C.; Galembeck, F.; Andrade, J. B.; Vieira, P. C. Quim. Nova 2012, 35, 2092], the authors highlighted the important aspects of science and technology with special emphasis on the field of Chemistry and its contributions toward a more prosperous Brazil of future. As a second step in that direction, this article extends the discussion of a key issue for the country in the framework of the chemistry community through the so called position papers in strategic areas. This document is a part of the contribution of the Brazilian Chemical Society to the World Science Forum to be held in Rio de Janeiro in November 2013. In this context, the present paper provides a brief discussion on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) with emphasis on the current challenges and opportunities towards the development and evolution of the field. NTDs leads to illness, long-term disability or death, and has severe social, economic and psychological consequences for millions of men, women, and children worldwide. In most cases, the available treatments are inadequate and extremely limited in terms of efficacy and safety, leading to an urgent demand for new drugs. In addition to the traditional challenges involved in any drug discovery process, it is widely recognized that there is an innovation gap and a lack of investment for research and development (R&D) in the area of NTDs. In the last few decades, methods toward combating, eradication, prevention, and treatment of NTDs have been repeatedly emphasized in the major international agendas. Developments in these strategies and alliances have continued to have an essential impact, particularly in the area of drug discovery, both in Brazil and globally and should be encouraged and supported. Several examples of international activities dedicated to the reduction of the devastating global impact of NTDs can be provided. Despite the beneficial developments in the past 30 years, NTDs continue to devastate poor communities in remote and vulnerable areas, in large part, due to market failures and public policies. Recent studies have shown that among 756 new drugs approved between 2000 and 2011, only four new chemical entities (NCEs) were identified for the treatment of malaria, while none were developed against NTDs or tuberculosis. Furthermore, only 1.4% of approximately 150,000 clinical trials were registered for neglected diseases, with a smaller number of trials for NCEs. Establishment and strengthening of global strategies involving the triad "government-academia-industry" is fundamental to the success in R&D of new drugs for NTDs. National and international public-private initiatives that aim to create, encourage, and invest in R&D projects have been implemented and therefore are of utmost importance to successfully integrate Brazil into this new paradigm. It is essential to lay the foundation for mechanisms that will intensify investments in infrastructure, training, and qualification of personnel with an ultimate strategic vision that foresees continuity. Our research group has made significant contributions to the development of this field with the goal of forging new frontiers while tackling both current and future challenges that include indispensable elements such as innovation and integration.
  • Challenges of the Brazilian pharmaceutical industry

    Pinto, Angelo C.; Barreiro, Eliezer J.

    Abstract in English:

    The paper traces a panorama of the development of new drugs and hopes to contribute for Brazil to become a player in the discovery of new drugs. Brazil is the sixth world market retail consumer of medicines prone to expansion, has a pharmaceutical industry focused on the production of generics and a very large number of undergraduate courses in Pharmacy. The national industry has grown over the last decade after the Generics Act 9787/99. Despite these positive aspects, a number of bottlenecks prevent Brazilian pharmaceutical industry to invest in the development of new drugs. There are, however, a number of initiatives to reduce the dependence on imported generic drugs. It is a very good start for the development of new pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Public image and divulgation of chemistry: challenges and opportunities

    Teruya, Leila Cardoso; Marson, Guilherme Andrade; Rezende, Claudia Moraes de; Viana, Mario Henrique

    Abstract in English:

    Chemical knowledge plays a central role in the economical and social development of a nation. Chemistry is considered a key science, which provides the means and meanings that fuel the advancement of other fields of knowledge. However, the public image of chemistry is often associated with negative facts and misconceptions. This paper addresses and discusses the public image of chemistry with two case studies: the public image of chemistry depicted in two major Brazilian newspapers and the Brazilian project for the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). Analysis of the newspaper data strongly suggests that the public image of chemistry is related to both the way news is written and the ability of the reader to identify the chemical knowledge actually present in the text. Analysis of IYC related data in the second case study depicted an optimistic panorama for the divulgation of chemistry at both national and local levels. A model for broad and effective initiatives for dissemination of chemistry is discussed. The need to keep science divulgation as the top agenda of the scientific community is also highlighted.
  • Research in chemical education as a strategic area for the development of Chemistry

    Santos, Wildson Luiz Pereira dos; Porto, Paulo Alves

    Abstract in English:

    This paper presents an overview of the development of chemical education as a research area and some of its contributions to society. Although science education is a relatively recent area of research, it went through an expressive development in the last decades. As in the whole world, in Brazil also such development is attested by the expressive number of scientific societies, specialized journals, and meetings with growing attendance in the areas of science education in general and chemical education in particular. Following are the main contributions of research in science education related to chemistry teaching: adoption of teaching-learning principles in chemistry education; contextualization of chemical knowledge; interdisciplinary approach to chemistry teaching; use of the history of science for the definition of contents and for the design of curricula and teaching tools; development of specific disciplines for the initial and in-service training of chemistry teachers; publication of innovative chemistry textbooks by university-based research groups; elaboration of official guidelines for high-school level; and evaluation of chemistry textbooks to be distributed to high-school students by the Brazilian government. In spite of a positive impact of such initiatives, science education in Brazil still faces many problems, as indicated by poor results in international evaluations (such as the Program for International Student Assessment). However, changes in such a scenario depend less on the research in chemical education than on the much-needed governmental initiatives aiming at the improvement of both attractiveness of teaching career and structural conditions of public schools. In conclusion, new government investments in education are necessary for continuing the development of chemistry; moreover, scientific societies and decision makers in educational policies should take into consideration the contributions originated from the chemical education research area.
  • Exploring microbial natural products in the frontiers of Chemistry and Biology

    Oliveira, Luciana Gonzaga de; Pupo, Mônica Tallarico; Vieira, Paulo Cezar

    Abstract in English:

    The chemistry of natural products has been remarkably growing in the past few decades in Brazil. Aspects related to the isolation and identification of new natural products, as well as their biological activities, have been achieved in different laboratories working on this subject in the country. More recently, the introduction of new molecular biology tools has strongly influenced the research on natural products, mainly those produced by microorganisms, creating new possibilities to assess the chemical diversity of secondary metabolites. This paper describes some ideas on how the research on natural products can have a considerable input from molecular biology in the generation of chemical diversity. We also explore the role of microbial natural products in mediating interspecific interactions and their relevance to ecological studies. Examples of the generation of chemical diversity are highlighted by using genome mining, mutasynthesis, combinatorial biosynthesis, metagenomics, and synthetic biology, while some aspects of microbial ecology are also discussed. The idea to bring up this topic is linked to the remarkable development of molecular biology techniques to generate useful chemicals from different organisms. Here, we focus mainly on microorganisms, even though similar approaches have also been applied to the study of plants and other organisms. Investigations in the frontier of chemistry and biology require interactions between different areas, characterizing the interdisciplinarity of this research field. The necessity of a real integration of chemistry and biology is pivotal to finding correct answers to a number of biological phenomena. The use of molecular biology tools to generate chemical diversity and control biosynthetic pathways is largely explored in the production of important biologically active compounds. Finally, we briefly comment on the Brazilian organization of research in this area, the necessity of new strategies for the graduation programs, and the establishment of networks as a way of organization to overcome some of the problems faced in the area of natural products.
  • Biocatalysis: facts and trends

    Gonçalves, Caroline da C. S.; Marsaioli, Anita J.

    Abstract in English:

    Brazil is renowned for its biodiversity; however, its economy is based on exotic plants, extraction and unsustainable use of natural resources. This issue was addressed in a recent QN review entitled "Chemistry without Borders." In order to explore the potential of Brazilian biodiversity fully, sustainable development is required in key technological areas, such as biotechnology. This research field is consistent with the green chemistry and white technology principles. Therefore, biotechnology is a sustainable alternative to conventional technologies and is expected to account for 20% of global chemicals by 2020. Brazil is the second largest grower of biotech crops and biodiesel, but its main activities rely on the fermentative process. In order to stimulate the national biotechnology development, the Brazilian Federal Government launched a national policy for biotechnology in 2007 and the National Committee of Biotechnology was created. Among the outstanding biotechnological processes, biocatalysis is one of the most important alternatives to conventional processing, and this field has changed dramatically with the advent of recombinant DNA technology in the 1970s, when large quantities of enzymes were accessible. The direct evolution methodology in the 1990s was a breakthrough and allowed tailoring of enzymes possessing high stability and stereoselectivity. However, about 60 years after the first industrial enzymatic biotransformation of steroids, the full potential of biocatalysis is far from being achieved. Future challenges in this field concern the multienzyme cascade reactions associated with optimized chemoenzymatic processes, and some recent industrial application of biocatalysts are also highlighted in this perspective.
  • Asymmetric catalysis in Brazil: development and potential for advancement of Brazilian chemical industry

    Braga, Antonio Luiz; Lüdtke, Diogo Seibert; Schneider, Paulo Henrique; Andrade, Leandro Helgueira; Paixão, Márcio Weber

    Abstract in English:

    The preparation of enantiomerically pure or enriched substances is of fundamental importance to pharmaceutical, food, agrochemical, and cosmetics industries and involves a growing market of hundreds of billions of dollars. However, most chemical processes used for their production are not environmentally friendly because in most cases, stoichiometric amounts of chiral inductors are used and substantial waste is produced. In this context, asymmetric catalysis has emerged as an efficient tool for the synthesis of enantiomerically enriched compounds using chiral catalysts. More specifically, considering the current scenario in the Brazilian chemical industry, especially that of pharmaceuticals, the immediate prospect for the use of synthetic routes developed in Brazil in an enantioselective fashion or even the discovery of new drugs is practically null. Currently, the industrial production of drugs in Brazil is primarily focused on the production of generic drugs and is basically supported by imports of intermediates from China and India. In order to change this panorama and move forward toward the gradual incorporation of genuinely Brazilian synthetic routes, strong incentive policies, especially those related to continuous funding, will be needed. These incentives could be a breakthrough once we establish several research groups working in the area of organic synthesis and on the development and application of chiral organocatalysts and ligands in asymmetric catalysis, thus contributing to boost the development of the Brazilian chemical industry. Considering these circumstances, Brazil can benefit from this opportunity because we have a wide biodiversity and a large pool of natural resources that can be used as starting materials for the production of new chiral catalysts and are creating competence in asymmetric catalysis and related areas. This may decisively contribute to the growth of chemistry in our country.
  • Innovation for sustainability

    Galembeck, Fernando

    Abstract in English:

    The transition to sustainable standards of production and consumption within a scenario of decreased availability of natural resources, growing population and climate change is essential to meet current challenges facing mankind. A strategy to meet these challenges should contain elements different from current approaches for industrial production. This work concentrates on the possibilities for the intensive use of sustainable biomass, abundant minerals and every type of residue, a task that can largely benefit from the application of nanotechnology and biotechnology platforms for material design and transformation. This strategy cannot be solely based on existing knowledge and requires new science, new knowledge including supposedly well-known themes, like the tribochemistry of electrostatic charging and friction. It is especially relevant within the Brazilian context, where many recent successful innovations are related to biomass production and transformation. Implementation of this strategy requires converging efforts by personnel from many different organizations and professions, while making sound risk assessment to produce significant innovation leading to sustainable development.
  • Metabolomics, an optimized approach for the rational exploitation of Brazilian biodiversity: state of the art, new scenarios, and challenges

    Funari, Cristiano Soleo; Castro-Gamboa, Ian; Cavalheiro, Alberto José; Bolzani, Vanderlan da Silva

    Abstract in English:

    Brazilian biodiversity is a colossal source of secondary metabolites with remarkable structural features, which are valuable in further biodiscovery studies. In order to fully understand the relations and interactions of a living system with its surroundings, efforts in natural product chemistry are directed toward the challenge of detecting and identifying all the molecular components present in complex samples. It is plausible that this endeavor was born out of recent technological sophistication in secondary metabolite identification with sensitive spectroscopic instruments (MS and NMR) and higher resolving power of chromatographic systems, which allow a decrease in the amount of required sample and time to acquire data. Nevertheless, the escalation of data acquired in these analyses must be sorted with statistical and multi-way tools in order to select key information. Chromatography is also of paramount importance, more so when selected compounds need to be isolated for further investigation. However, in the course of pursuing a "greener" environment, new policies, with an aim to decrease the use of energy and solvents, are being developed and incorporated into analytical methods. Metabolomics could be an effective tool to answer questions on how living organisms in our huge biodiversity work and interact with their surroundings while also being strategic to the development of high value bio-derived products, such as phytotherapeutics and nutraceuticals. The incorporation of proper phytotherapeutics in the so-called Brazilian Unified Health System is considered an important factor for the urgent improvement and expansion of the Brazilian national health system. Furthermore, this approach could have a positive impact on the international interest toward scientific research developed in Brazil as well as the development of high value bio-derived products, which appear as an interesting economic opportunity in national and global markets. Thus, this study attempts to highlight the recent advances in analytical tools used in detection of secondary metabolites, which can be useful as bioproducts. It also emphasizes the potential avenues to be explored in Brazilian biodiversity, known for its rich chemical diversity.
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