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Synthetech acquires I.P. and hooks into resins
March 2006
by Lisa Espenschade  |  Email the author
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ALBANY , Ore. –In mid-January, Synthetech Inc. acquired intellectual property assets for resin processes from Colorado Biotechnology Associates Inc. (CBA). Resin production, which has already begun at Synthetech's facility, will diversify the company's product lines beyond amino acid, peptide, and chiral intermediate products.
 
Synthetech president and CEO M. "Sreeni" Sreenivasan says that under the deal Synthetech receives technology for generating "a range of resins, the know-how to attach the first amino acid to the resins, the quality control information, as well as [CBA's] customer base." Rodger Raubach, founder and primary owner of CBA, who sold the technology when he retired, received "a fairly nominal upfront payment…the big upside for [Raubach] will be the royalties" plus consulting fees, says Sreenivasan.
 
Raubach says he will collaborate with Synthetech as an "on-call resin guru" for three years to ensure technology transfer goes smoothly, support customers, and provide "research direction" for clients interested in custom resins. He says he "felt that Synthetech, with their amino acid chemistry plus our resin chemistry, was a very good hand-in-glove relationship" for his proprietary techniques for manufacture of cross-linked and functionalized polymeric resins.
 
The resins are used in solid-phase peptide synthesis, where they act, says Sreenivasan, "like an anchor while building up the chain" and functioning as processing aids, not part of a finished product. With equipment that can handle 400 to 8,000 liters of material, Synthetech offers production capabilities that move CBA's resins into much larger-scale production than the 10-20 kilo batches that Raubach's infrastructure could handle. By early February, Synthetech was performing quality analysis on its first batch of Merrifield resin in a scaled-up quantity and "doing some in-house testing on attaching various amino acids to the resins, to get a feel for the process," says Sreenivasan.
 
Sreenivasan hopes to roll out six resins within several months, with an eye on showcasing them at conferences in May and September. "Anybody doing combinatorial chemistry obviously is going to use these things," says Sreenivasan, noting that Synthetech resin products may eventually be available both directly through the company and via catalogue houses. Raubach's copolymerization technique, he believes, will enable "pretty good quality compared to what might be the typical stuff on the market" because of superior uniformity, color, and swelling properties.
 
Raubach says that a wider variety of resins, including scavenger resins that pull "undesirable materials" out of solutions like fishhooks, might also be available from Synthetech within about a year. He sees the possibility for "a whole variety of these things" once Synthetech has transferred technology for five base resins–Merrifield, Wang, MBHA, aminomethyl, and chlorotrityl – and brought them to "a marketable position." Synthetech will cater to the same marketplaces that purchase its natural and nonnatural peptide building blocks, according to Sreenivasan.
 
When Raubach founded CBA in 1981 with his wife Anne, also a chemist, the company worked primarily in a business that he says resembled Synthetech's, but shifted into resins in 1988 after seeing demands generated by solid-phase chemistry and recognizing "a growing need for the products, and there was a complete vacuum out there at the time." Over its history, CBA manufactured several hundred specialty resins, including some unique derivatized resins, says Raubach, and became "major players in the combinatorial chemistry field."
 
Code: E030605

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