Paraytec has been chosen to lead a £1m (€1.4m) consortium project to develop new analytical instruments that will detect aggregation in biopharmaceutical processing.
The multidisciplinary consortium, led by two-year old Paraytec, includes Avecia, Intertek ASG, Lonza and the University of Bradford and is being funded to develop an instrument that can measure both the amount and the size of a biopharmaceutical when integrated with separations instruments.
The £1m funding is being provided by research grants from the UK's Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Aggregation of biopharmaceutical molecules can cause a major problem during the biopharmaceutical finishing and polishing stages as it can, at best, reduce the effectiveness of a drug and at worst lead to detrimental health effects.
With the increasing numbers of biopharmaceutical drugs reaching the market, the need for new techniques to measure their purity is increasing.
Indeed, there are now around 300 biopharmaceuticals on the market that between them generated worldwide revenues of $85bn (€58bn) in 2005. Additionally, 30 per cent of all new drug candidates are biological, demonstrating just how fast the area is growing.
"For bioprocessing companies like Avecia and Lonza, the big attraction of this technology is that UV detection is the method of choice for monitoring and quantifying biopharmaceuticals during both the separation and polishing stages," said Professor David Goodall, Paraytec's chief scientific officer.
"The ability to gain additional information on size using the same technique is seen as a significant benefit."
Paraytec made a big impression at Pittcon 2007, when its ActiPix D100 capillary-based UV/Vis detector snatched the Silver Pittcon Editor's Award from under the noses of industry giants just days after its release. It has since built on this success by winning an R&D100 award.
The new collaboration will focus on using the ActiPix' ability to measure the size of particles as they move through a looped capillary where the area of a peak is proportional the amount of compound it contains.
The width of a peak can provide information about the size of a molecule due to an effect known as Taylor dispersion.
When a liquid flows through a tube, a velocity profile develops with the liquid flowing faster in some radial positions than others. This leads to particles that are present in the liquid being dispersed along the tube axis with larger particles being effected more than smaller ones.
By measuring the change in the width of a UV band the team plans to develop an instrument that can accurately determine the size of the particles in a short amount of time to enable bioprocesses to be monitored more efficiently.
"A real benefit of this collaboration is in getting validation of the technique by working with key people within the industry," said Prof. Goodall.