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Joining separation technologies
January 2009
by Chris Anderson  |  Email the author
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ILLKIRCH CEDEX, France—In a move that strengthens its position as the leader in enantioselective chromatography columns for chiral research, Chiral Technologies Europe (CTE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan's Daicel Chemical Industries Ltd., announced recently it had acquired ChromTech Ltd., a U.K.-based maker of reversed-phase chromatography columns. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

With the purchase, Chiral Technologies gains both a well-known and long-standing line of chromatography columns and broadens its presence in the protein and biologic separations market, one that should see significant growth in the coming years.

"Our goal is to be the complete provider of separation solutions to pharma and biotech, starting with small-scale in discovery and development all the way to scale-up for commercial production," says Joseph Barendt, COO of Chiral Technologies Inc., the U.S.-based sister company to CTE. "With ChromTech's protein-based columns, we have added products that complement our established Daicel line and provide a solution to companies for their biologic research."

Specifically, according to information provided by both companies, ChromTech columns, including its CHIRAL-AGP, CHIRAL-CBH and CHIRAL-HSA, function entirely in reversed-phase mode, using buffers with low organic modifier content and at moderate pH values and favor the more highly water-soluble molecules. In contrast, Chiral Technologies' columns sold under the CHIRALCEL, CHIRALPAK and CROWNPAK brand names are appropriate for organic mobile phases and are more suited to compounds of higher lipophilicity at the extremes of the pH range.

In broad terms, Chiral Technologies has added a line that addresses the biologic market versus its columns which focus more directly on chemical separations.

For Prof. Jörgen Hermansson, managing director and founder of ChromTech, the decision to sell to Chiral Technologies was part of his retirement plan, but also was based on his desire to see the products he nurtured and improved over the course of more than 20 years land in the hands of company that would continue that legacy.

"When you have invented the product, it is quite nice to see them moving on in another good company like Chiral Technologies," Hermansson says. "I think our products complement their products. Our columns are used a lot in connection with mass spec and in bio analysis, and their columns are not so well suited to that work."

While the acquisition positions Chiral Technologies to serve a market that will see more and more biologics brought to market in the coming years, it doesn't necessarily mean the company will need to recruit a whole new set of customers in the biotech space, say company officials.

"Five years ago, I would have given you a different answer, but today most of the pharmaceutical companies are really a blend of pharma and biotech," says Barendt. "All our customers, from the large multinational pharmas to the second- and third-tier companies, are deeply involved in chiral separations and ChromTech gives us a good front with them in biologics.

"I'm also a strong believer in crossover, and I think we have an opportunity with ChromTech to find synergies with our existing product lines."

Specifically, Barendt sees an opportunity for an enzyme technology owned by Daicel, which has not been aggressively marketed by the company, as a natural companion to the ChromTech line. DDN
 
Code: E010909

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