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Using Chromatography to Purify Therapeutic Drugs

By janani – Posted on 22 August 2011

Human growth hormone and insulin are both proteins essential to the human body. In many cases, patients who lack these proteins have them supplied through injections. The construction and purity of these proteins are key because the human body is quick to identify and immunize against impure proteins it does not recognize. If this situation occurs, the efficacy of these therapeutic drugs is lost.

Thus, Dr. Frey of the CAST lab uses a unique type of chromatography called chromatofocusing to purify these proteins for use. This process is similar to a sensor in that it identifies the composition of the sample. The chromatography involves column-packing of specifically designed particles that bind with certain impurities. For example, a mistranslated amino acid can bind with a particle based on hydrophobiscity, hydrofelicity, and/or charge.

The protein sample is first inserted into the column and binds with the particles within the column during its travel. The bond strength between these particles and the protein determines the sample’s rate of travel through the column. As a result, a sample with many proteins can be purified together, but collected separately: simplifying and optimizing the process.

Dr. Frey and his lab have worked with Genzyme™ to mass produce these drugs using techniques developed and perfected at the CAST lab. They also have worked with Grace and Co., a company based in Columbia, MD, to collaborate on materials and equipment needed to create these drugs.

Currently, Dr. Frey and his team are working with Tetrazole, a compound that could be useful for packing the column due to its hydrogen bonding and charge as a weak acid. Tetrazole is now being combined with Polystyrene and in the testing process.

To learn more about Dr. Frey’s work, Click Here