Novel advanced tools for robust, low-cost separation and purification of Biopolymers are expected to drive EU improvements in the fields of clinical analysis, proteomics and downstream purification of biopharmaceuticals. The application of plastic microcapillaries to the separation and purification of biopolymers will offer high accuracy and reliability with significant reductions in instrumentation cost over conventional systems. Platforms to be designed with multiplexed capillaries will significantly enhance productivity in the biopharmaceutical and medical fields and open up new markets for capillary instrumentation. Plastic microcapillaries will be adapted to support separations of biopolymers through affinity and ion-exchange chromatography and capillary electrophoresis. Capillary walls (made of a wide range of thermoplastics) will act as the matrix for immobilisation of affinity ligands or deposition of positive/negative charges. The added values of optical transparency, stability and precise internal diameter of the plastic capillaries will be explored for the purification of biopolymers by electrophoretic methods. The project will be carried out at the University of Cambridge, where very accurate, parallel capillaries have been embedded in a plastic film extruded through a patented process. Prof. Malcolm Mackley, at the department of chemical engineering, was the co-inventor of the new extrusion process and will be in charge of supervising this project. The extrusion process is very cheap, making the plastic films disposable after a single cycle of purifications. Prof. Howard Chase will provide the necessary knowledge in bioseparations for the development of plastic, affinity and ion-exchange capillaries. Lamina Dielectrics Ltd is currently licensed for manufacturing of microcapillary films and will be an important industrial partner. Analytical techniques such as UV-Vis absorbance, laser induced fluorescence and mass spectroscopy will be used.
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