Reverse micelles create unique environment in organic media. They are capable of solubilizing hydrophilic biomolecules (e.g., proteins, peptides, amino acids, and DNAs) in their aqueous interior. This feature brings about the practical use of biomaterials in organic media because reverse micelles solubilize them with the intrinsic activity. In this paper, we focus on recent two topics concerning protein extraction and chiral separation of biomolecules using liquid membranes. In the first topic, we present recent attempts to extract proteins from an aqueous solution into isooctane using reverse micelles, and some important operational parameters to achieve an efficient protein transfer are discussed. Furthermore, novel function of reverse micelles as a protein activation medium is introduced. In the reverse micellar phase, denatured proteins were completely reactivated in the reverse micellar solution. The reverse micellar technique is found to be a useful tool not only for protein separation but also for protein refolding. Furthermore, we found that a cyclic ligand carixarene has an extraction ability to set up optimum conditions for protein transfer. In the second topic, we have found that a supported liquid membrane (SLM) encapsulating enzymes shows high enantioselectivity (enantioselective excess value is over 96%) in the transport of racemic pharmaceutical compound ibuprofen. A different experiment also suggests that the α-chymotrypsin-catalyzed reactions droved the enantioselective transport of L-phenylalanine based on the enantioselectivity of the enzyme. The SLM encapsulating the surfactant-enzyme complex enabled the highly enantioselective separation of racemic mixtures. It can be envisioned that arrangement of appropriate enzymes in the SLM system will allow enantioselective separation of various useful organic compounds.
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