In this interview, News-Medical talks to Patrick Gilbert, Technical Director at Purolite, about the work Purolite do and how their chemical synthesis processes are benefitted by the Radleys Mya 4 reaction station.
Streamlining chemical synthesis and process development with Radleys Mya 4
Video credit: Radleys
Could you give our readers a brief overview of Purolite and the work that you do?
At Purolite we are 100% focused on resin technology - small beads used for purification in industrial applications or new life sciences. This technology was originally used in water treatment where water had to be cleaned before or after use. Over the last 10 to 15 years we have been diversifying into the life sciences market, and 10 years ago, we embarked on an agro resin program.
Traditionally resin technology is made of synthetic polymers, but our new product line is made of a seaweed-derived polymer. We work from proof of principle and feasibility studies, all the way through to full-scale commercialization and adoption into CGMP and FDA-approved drugs.
What are the main goals of the company in terms of the products that you supply?
Image credit: Radleys
Our goals typically begin with an unmet customer need. Our sales team is in direct contact with clients, and these clients often have unique challenges, for example, air purification. Often, current commercially available resins do not meet the client’s requirements, so we provide custom solutions. We start at the R&D scale and produce proof of concept material, then either test this in-house or send it to the client to evaluate internally at their site.
Once we have that proof of concept approved, we take it through an optimization stage to expand the key parameters and evaluate whether or not these can be improved. This gives us a lead candidate, which we then take through upscaling at the liter or two-liter scale, depending on the end application.
Once we have positive confirmation of a suitable lead candidate, we then take it through to full commercialization, into the pilot, and then into full-scale production. Depending on its end usage, we can offer that solution globally or as a bespoke solution to that one client.
How much does the Mya 4 factor into Purolite's process?
Image credit: Radleys
For us, the Mya 4 is a daily workhorse. We had previously used round-bottom flasks in water baths, but as we upscaled, we would have to reformulate everything. This would take a lot of time, but with the Mya 4, we can skip that reformulation step.
We also have fantastic scale-down data now, so we can go directly from a 100 milliliter Mya flask directly into a 100 liter glass jacket, keeping formulation and processing parameters the same to ensure quick and reproducible results.
The Mya 4 also enables the bench chemist to perform multiple projects simultaneously. Because all four stations on the Mya are independent, we can operate completely different reactions, freeing up time and increasing our resin throughput and lead time.
What factors made the Mya 4 your first choice for this kind of system?
Historically, we used water baths and round-bottom flasks, but we wanted to move away from this approach for several reasons. One of the main issues with the water bath and round-bottom flask system was that we were limited to one reaction temperature. We could only do one project at a time or look at one variable, and this was slowing down our reaction time. The other downside was that whenever we scaled up into pilot or into process vessels we had to reformulate, because of the different mixing.
We decided to look for an alternative - small-scale parallel synthesis reactors. Our key criteria was the availability of overhead stirring. A lot of systems only offer magnetic stirring with a small bead in the flask, but for our product, this will cause degradation and potentially destroy the end product.
We were also looking for an independently controlled system in terms of heating and cooling. We needed this level of process control to maintain the process temperature independently of the jacket or block temperature.
The Mya 4 ticked all of those boxes at a good cost point. We purchased our first instrument a few years ago, and we have used this on a daily basis. We haven't looked back.
How has the Mya 4 benefited the work that you do day to day? Are there projects that you have been able to complete that would have been difficult otherwise?
Image credit: Radleys
The Mya 4 reduces the cycle time of projects and can significantly condense timelines. The quickest project we have done to date - from proof of principle to upscale - has taken just six weeks. Previously, this timeframe would have been unmanageable and would likely have taken at least three or four months.
Being able to do true DOE work on this system while ensuring reliability and reproducibility of results is critical. It also allows the free zones to be used by other R&D scientists to produce small-scale prototyping material for other projects. Overall, the Mya 4 enables us to deliver higher throughput in a smaller, more condensed space.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in the future for Purolite, and how will Radleys and the Mya 4 help and support you with these?
Purolite is still rapidly growing, the number of projects we take on is continually increasing, and this extra workload will require increased use of the Mya system. We purchased a second Mya system about a year after the first one, and as we grow, we will be looking to purchase more of these systems to keep pace with our R&D programs.
Image credit: Radleys
About Dr. Gilbert
Dr. Patrick Gilbert is Technical Director for Purolite, where he has worked for over 9 years and is part of the amazing team behind a revolutionary protein A resin range. Responsible for the management of the agarose resin technical team at Purolite including R&D, Production, and Quality. Leading NPD and commercialization of agarose resins into dedicated production facilities for use in highly regulated environments.
Radleys, world leaders in innovative productivity tools for chemists. Radleys provide innovative chemistry equipment for safer, cleaner, greener and more productive chemical research.
Radleys have been manufacturing scientific glassware and laboratory instruments for over 50 years and our customers include leading blue-chip industrial and academic research facilities around the world.
- Established in 1966
- Based in Saffron Walden, United Kingdom
- Instrument and glassware manufacturer
- In-house Research and Development facilities
- Distributors in 47 countries
Our areas of expertise are focused on equipment for chemical synthesis, process development, work-up and evaporation.