New research in bioscience applications and the expanded use of microwave-assisted open vessel reactions highlighted the 5th International Microwaves in Chemistry Conference.
The conference, which was held April 18-20, 2007 at Imperial College in London, was the largest to date with 250 attendees and more than 40 poster presentations.
Though initially thought to be an energy source that was too hot for bioscience applications, microwave energy with simultaneous cooling is proving to be extremely valuable for producing higher yields and better results than conventional methods.
Several speakers presented new research on the use of microwave energy to decrease reaction times for peptide synthesis, protein hydrolysis, and enzymatic digestions, as well as enabling new approaches in glycoconjugate synthesis, protein labeling, protein folding, and biocatalysis.
A new 96-well plate, specifically designed for use in microwave-assisted bioscience applications was also discussed. This new hardware breakthrough will allow researchers to use microwave energy in a standard format to assist in applications that currently require high throughput such as protein binding experiments, enzymatic digestions, cell-based assay studies, and antigen-antibody studies.
“The quality of the research presented this year was absolutely outstanding,” said Michael J. Collins, president and CEO of CEM Corporation, “and the work being pursued in biomolecular applications has long-term benefits for bioscience research, and ultimately, new biopharmaceuticals. It is quite amazing to see how rapidly the technology is advancing into these important new areas of science.”
The Keynote presentation was given by Professor Steven V. Ley, CBE FRS, of the University of Cambridge, who is renowned for his work in organic chemistry and the discovery of new synthetic methods. Ley who has been a proponent of microwave synthesis for years, calls it a “strategically important process” for chemistry. The truth of that description was evident throughout the rest of the conference as other speakers presented research using microwave energy in medicinal chemistry, polymer chemistry, nanotechnology, and proteomics.
The expanded use of single-mode microwave systems for open vessel/atmospheric reactions was also a topic of discussion. Though the systems are mainly used for pressurized reactions, chemists are discovering that they can also perform atmospheric reactions and reap the same benefits of speed, improved selectivity and better yields achieved under pressurized conditions.