What is enzyme immobilization?

Immobilization is defined as the imprisonment of cell or enzyme in a distinct support or matrix. The support or matrix on which the enzymes are immobilized allows the exchange of medium containing substrate or effector or inhibitor molecules. The practice of immobilization of cells is very old and the first immobilized enzyme was amino acylase of Aspergillus oryzae for the production of L-amino acids in Japan. 

Advantages of immobilized enzymes:

(1).   Increased functional efficiency of enzyme

(2).   Enhanced reproducibility of the process they are undertaking

(3).   Reuse of enzyme

(4).   Continuous use of enzyme

(5).   Less labour input in the processes

(6).   Saving in capital cost and investment of the process

(7).   Minimum reaction time

(8).   Less chance of contamination in products

(9).   More stability of products

(10). Stable supply of products in the market

(11). Improved process control

(12). High enzyme substrate ratio

Disadvantages of enzyme immobilization:

(1).  Even though there are many advantages of immobilized enzymes, there are some disadvantages also.

(2).  High cost for the isolation, purification and recovery of active enzyme (most important disadvantage)

(3).  Industrial applications are limited and only very few industries are using immobilized enzymes or immobilized whole cells.

(4).  Catalytic properties of some enzymes are reduced or completely lost after their immobilization on support or carrier.

(5).  Some enzymes become unstable after immobilization.

(6).  Enzymes are inactivated by the heat generated in the system

Applications of enzyme immobilization:

(1). Industrial production: Industrial production of antibiotics, beverages, amino acids etc. uses immobilized enzymes or whole cells.

(2). Biomedical applications: Immobilized enzymes are widely used in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. Immobilized enzymes can be used to overcome inborn metabolic disorders by the supply of immobilized enzymes. Immobilization techniques are effectively used in drug delivery systems especially to oncogenic sites.

(3). Food industry: Enzymes like pectinases and cellulases immobilized on suitable carriers are successfully used in the production of jams, jellies and syrups from fruits and vegetables.

(4). Research: A Research activity extensively uses many enzymes. The use of immobilized enzyme allow researcher to increase the efficiency of different enzymes such as Horse Radish Peroxidase (HRP) in blotting experiments and different Proteases for cell or organelle lysis.

(5). Production of bio-diesel from vegetable oils.

(6). Waste water management: treatment of sewage and industrial effluents.

(7). Textile industry: scouring, bio-polishing and desizing of fabrics.

(8). Detergent industry: immobilization of lipase enzyme for effective dirt removal from cloths.