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Monolith Technology – A Gateway to Disposable Chromatography

The biotechnological production of recombinants proteins consists of two main processes, upstream (biosynthesis) and downstream (protein purification) process. During the last decades the upstream process for mammalian cell culture has been improved significantly yielding in high amounts of protein. This development however led to a new challenge : the downstream process became a bottle-neck because of the large amounts of protein per batch in combination with the protein specific behaviors at high concentration.

In protein purification preparative chromatography is synonymous to “column chromatography”, and the favorable statics of a column are out of question for the physical requirements of beaded matrices. However, when approaching larger scales the physical dimensions of chromatography columns turn unfavorable: shallow gel beds of wide diameters. The footprint of such device increases drastically as does the weight, consequently resulting in limitations regarding floor space and floor bearing force.

A suitable chromatographic base matrix that is not obliged to a distinctive column design is a single piece of polymer – a monolith. Leaving the conventional column design, we have constructed a device for a monolith of rectangular shape, with the size of the monolith only limited by total weight (e.g. for handling and / or transportation). Using this design in a modular way, the individual modules can be stacked to make use of the height of a room at a very low footprint. A specific distribution system for feeding the monolith modules has been designed to allow a true linear scale-up from laboratory to large technical scale.