Five Minutes with…
Andrea Adamo, Ph.D., Founder & CEO, ZAIPUT
Chemistry Today: Can you describe the technological innovations that Zaiput offers?
Adamo: We offer liquid-liquid phase separation technologies. Our observation, in the context of continuous processing (flow chemistry), is that reactor technology is already very advanced; however, in-line work up capabilities are a still an unmet need. Chemical Extraction is rather common process step that throughout our technology is finally available in the context of continuous manufacturing. In batch processing extraction is carried out with a first mixing step to allow for mass transfer and then a gravity based separation; in the flow context the mixing happens in a tube or suitable reactor, the separation of phases happens with one of our devices. on the go. Our technology can also be applied in in batch contexts, to leverage some of it key advantages. As a matter of fact, we can separate liquids of identical densities, and we can separate emulsions, that break by contacting the inner membrane that we use for sepaation.
Chemistry Today: Which next developments do we have to expect?
Adamo:There is a lot of excitement in the filed, the product is well received and demand is growing. We are working in two directions; fone is scale up of our products, we want to offer a complete range of products from the laboratory bench to the pilot plant and to the production plant. Second, we are tackling complex extractions: in cases where you need to repeat the extraction steps several times, we want to offer devices already connected in series to simplify the chemist’s job providing ease of operation, quick process scalability with dramatic saving in time and amount of material needed to optimize a process.
Chemistry Today: What kind of applications and industries are leading demand for Zaiput technology?
Adamo: Pharma is our first client overall, followed by universities and fine and specialty chemicals.
Chemistry Today: Oh, universities too?
Adamo: Well, they are mainly interested in mall scale devices, our devices offers them ways to explore new complexity and process integration along with simplification of experimental set-up.. Fine and speciality chemicals show a lot of interest too, we expect to see a growing demand from these once the technology gains more popularity in the pharma context and the number of available examples grows..
CT: Speaking of academia, when you were in MIT you published an exciting study on an on-demand, compact continuous flow production of pharmaceuticals. Is this a development that is continuing in Zaiput?
Adamo: Zaiput actually comes from that experience: the flow liquid-liquid phase separator was needed to miniaturize the plant. In general there are lots of challenges to make this technology commercially viable. It could make sense for orphan drugs or other drugs with small production volumes. We are still thinking about how go forward from there.
CT: I read you got the unique opportunity to test your technologies on the International Space Station.
Adamo: We got a grant for this in 2015, and the expected launch date is September this year. The general idea is to verify what happens when you remove gravity from the device. Our technology uses surface forces to separate the liquid phases, so it should be independent from gravity. Once you remove gravity, you remove density differences – and we want to see if we gather interesting data that we could use to improve our technology. We will test both a standard and a modified device. It is also interesting to open up the possibility of chemical work-up in space: one day chemists that will colonize Mars could produce their own APIs!