research grant: Purification and separation of biologics in complex mixtures

The Biomaterials Science and Technology department has been recently awarded a project on “Purification and separation of biologics in complex mixtures”. The main target compounds are therapeutic agents produced by modern biotechnology.

The project is funded by the Dutch Technology Foundation, STW, and is performed in collaboration with the Universities of Amsterdam, Wageningen and various industrial partners.

Short summary

From the biotech process streams the target compounds have to be isolated and separated from higher order molecules (dimers, oligomers and aggregates). Purification methods that are generally used for classical pharmaceuticals are often not suitable for the labile and heat sensitive macromolecular biologics. Moreover, they add a substantial part to the production costs of biologics (that ranges from high to excessive).

The project aims at developing a purification method based on the field-flow fractionation (FFF) principle for the separation of the different forms of the biological target molecule and to isolate the native fully functional product. FFF is an existing analytical separation technique that allows the separation of (bio-) macromolecules under mild conditions. The objective is to convert the 1-dimensional channel used in (analytical) FFF into 2-dimensional system which would allow continuous operation, thereby creating the possibility of working on a preparative/industrial scale.

The heart of a FFF system is a membrane that retains the macromolecular target compounds but passes the carrier solution (usually an aqueous buffer solution). An essential part of the project is finding and/or developing membrane materials that meet the requirements imposed by the principles of the proposed separation technique and by the characteristics of the target compounds. Considerable attention will be given to up-scaling and applicability aspects. Prototypes will be tested and validated using real-life feed streams.

For more information, please contact Dr. Dimitrios Stamatialis:

Zuidhorst – 254; Phone: +31 53 4894675; Email: