Five minutes with Dr Joseph Barendt, President, Chiral Technologies – DCAT Week ‘18
PH: Please introduce Chiral Technologies.
Barendt: Chiral Technologies is part of a network of five operations owned by Daicel of Japan in the US, France, China, India and Japan. Our focus is entirely on pharma and our core business is chiral chromatography products and services for innovator drugs: chiral analysis using HPLC or SFC columns and custom purifications of racemates to get the API or intermediates pure. We also sell bulk stationary phases.
PH: Which is most driving business, products or services?
Barendt: Products. The service industry is good but is up-and-down and niche. As the asymmetric synthetic technologies improve, the separation services tend to decrease. For example, if we do 100 separations of one-gram samples in a typical year, when these projects come back to us as 100-gram projects, there will be 20 samples, because the drugs die or, if they survive, the organic synthetic teams find asymmetric catalysis and enzymatic technology that delivers the single enantiomer. Separation is really a stop-gap for our customers; we allow them to get their testing done on a single enantiomer to see if it is safe and effective. Of course, some drugs do go to production using our technology; we have about a dozen launched products using out stationary phase and support.
PH: Is business growing?
Barendt: Oh yes. More and more chiral centres require analysis, so that is growing. India and China are going extremely well for us and it was a good decision to invest there; Europe and the US aren’t fading, but the strongest growth is in Asia.
PH: Have you also branched out in terms of capabilities?
Barendt: We asked ourselves where we could add value with what we have beyond chiral. A few years ago, we started getting involved in analysing synthetic amino acids for isomers on zwitterionic ion exchange columns with chirality in them. Now we are looking to get oligopeptides in up to 10 mers, as peptide-drug conju
gate drugs will need this; you may have a chirally pure amino acid to start off with but in the process, there may be some racemisation. That is part of our new foray into the bio field and it is going pretty well. We also acquired a technology in the US for purification of DNA after PCR amplification. We take the sample up in a simple pipette tip, it adsorbs all the primers, primer dimers, and nucleotides and after a one-minute prep time, you have your DNA strands separate from the starting materials.
PH: Any more in the pipeline?
Barendt: This year we will launch a deuterium- and C13-labelled drug standards business in the US, covering APIs, intermediates and metabolites. This has already been launched in India, where our expertise in the field is strongest. Additionally, in China we launched a new series of chiral reagents which are being sold through Strem in the US and Europe. We saw a market gap where customers found their catalysts weren’t as chirally pure as expected and had to resort to separation. It makes sense to be in this area too, so if custom separations are going to decline due to chiral catalysis, let’s make sure that we provide the raw materials.
PH: How has this week gone for you, finally?
Barendt: Good. There have been some good meetings and the market is strong. We are at capacity on our separation side and running overtime on our largest unit. That’s fantastic, though it also makes you wonder what’s coming next. As usual in the custom business, it can be feast or famine!