Building Toolboxes in Pursuit of Single-Enantiomer Drugs - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Building Toolboxes in Pursuit of Single-Enantiomer Drugs
Biocatalysis, chemocatalysis, and other chiral technologies continue to attract the investment dollars of CMOs and fine-chemical companies.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 35, Issue 9, pp. 54-58

Expansion mode

Other companies also are expanding their capabilities in chiral chemistry. In April 2011, the custom pharmaceutical services business of Dr. Reddy's Laboratories opened a new 33,000-ft2 Chirotech Technology Center in Cambridge, United Kingdom. The additional capacity will facilitate an initial doubling of scientific staff and allow for further capacity additions, including capabilities in biocatalysis and chemocatalysis. In another development in 2010, Sigma Aldrich partnered with BASF to sell BASF's ChiPros branded chiral molecules in small quantities of up to one kilogram. The partnership involves 80 products, including chiral amines, alcohols, epoxides, and acids.

In a reorganization announced in August 2011, Evonik is combining its custom manufacturing business (i.e., exclusive synthesis) with its businesses for pharmaceutical amino acids (i.e., Rexim product line) and pharmaceutical polymers in a new healthcare business line, effective Sept. 1, 2011. The company's exclusive-synthesis business includes capabilities in biocatalysis and chemocatalysis, and the pharmaceutical amino acid business includes natural and nonnatural amino acids for making chiral building blocks.

Tools for molecular characterization and chiral separations also play an important role in producing single-enantiomer drugs. Recent activity includes a collaboration, announced in July 2011, between Chiral Technologies, a provider of chiral separation products, and BioTools, a provider of instrumentation for vibrational chiroptical spectroscopy. Vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) technology is used in structural characterization of chiral drugs and biopharmaceuticals. BioTools manufactures and sells VCD spectrometers, which are used to determine the absolute configuration of single enantiomers.

In December 2010, BioTools, Ghent University in Belgium, and the University of Antwerp opened the European Center for Chirality. The center's mission is to help academic and industrial scientists develop chirality-related applications by offering services ranging from the determination of absolute chiral configurations, vibrational optical activity (VOA) measurements, and computational modeling by providing expert consultants, educational workshops, and open-access VOA instrumentation.

In chromatographic applications, in May 2011, Chiral Technologies launched a new immobilized chiral stationary phase, Chiralpak ID, the fourth addition to the company's product line of immobilized chiral stationary phases. It can be used in high-performance liquid chromatography and supercritical fluid chromatography.

In September 2010, the European operations of Chiral Technologies, Chiral Technologies Europe, entered into a global licensing agreement with the University of Vienna under which Chiral Technologies Europe acquired exclusive manufacturing and marketing rights for Cinchona alkaloid-based zwitterion-exchange type chiral stationary phases invented and developed by researchers at the University of Vienna. The zwitterion-exchange type chiral separation phases separate a broad range of ionizable chiral analytes, which range from acidic and basic molecules to zwitterionic molecules that bear basic and acidic moieties in the same molecule.

Patricia Van Arnum is a senior editor at Pharmaceutical Technology, 485 Route One South, Bldg F, First Floor, Iselin, NJ 08830 tel. 732.346.3072,


1. P. Van Arnum, Pharm. Technol. 34 (8) 42–44 (2010).

2. C.K. Savile et al., Science 329 (5989), 305–309 (2010).

3. EPA, "The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Program: Summary of 2010 Award Entries and Recipients" (Washington, DC, 2010).

4. EPA, "The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Program: Summary of 2010 Award Entries and Recipients" (Washington, DC, 2011).

5. Y. Tang, Science 326 (5952), 589–592 (2009).


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