Synthetech acquires I.P. and hooks into resins

ALBANY, Ore. – In mid-January, Synthetech Inc. acquired intellectual property assets for resin processes from Colorado Biotechnology Associates Inc. (CBA). Resin production, which has already begun at Synthetec’s facility, will diversify the company’s product lines beyond amino acid, peptide, and chiral intermediate products.

Lisa Espenschade
ALBANY,Ore.–In mid-January, Synthetech Inc. acquired intellectual propertyassets for resin processes from Colorado Biotechnology Associates Inc.(CBA). Resin production, which has already begun at Synthetech'sfacility, will diversify the company's product lines beyond amino acid,peptide, and chiral intermediate products.
 
Synthetechpresident and CEO M. "Sreeni" Sreenivasan says that under the dealSynthetech receives technology for generating "a range of resins, theknow-how to attach the first amino acid to the resins, the qualitycontrol information, as well as [CBA's] customer base." Rodger Raubach,founder and primary owner of CBA, who sold the technology when heretired, received "a fairly nominal upfront payment…the big upside for[Raubach] will be the royalties" plus consulting fees, says Sreenivasan.
 
Raubachsays he will collaborate with Synthetech as an "on-call resin guru" forthree years to ensure technology transfer goes smoothly, supportcustomers, and provide "research direction" for clients interested incustom resins. He says he "felt that Synthetech, with their amino acidchemistry plus our resin chemistry, was a very good hand-in-gloverelationship" for his proprietary techniques for manufacture ofcross-linked and functionalized polymeric resins.
 
Theresins are used in solid-phase peptide synthesis, where they act, saysSreenivasan, "like an anchor while building up the chain" andfunctioning as processing aids, not part of a finished product. Withequipment that can handle 400 to 8,000 liters of material, Synthetechoffers production capabilities that move CBA's resins into muchlarger-scale production than the 10-20 kilo batches that Raubach'sinfrastructure could handle. By early February, Synthetech wasperforming quality analysis on its first batch of Merrifield resin in ascaled-up quantity and "doing some in-house testing on attachingvarious amino acids to the resins, to get a feel for the process," saysSreenivasan.
 
Sreenivasanhopes to roll out six resins within several months, with an eye onshowcasing them at conferences in May and September. "Anybody doingcombinatorial chemistry obviously is going to use these things," saysSreenivasan, noting that Synthetech resin products may eventually beavailable both directly through the company and via catalogue houses.Raubach's copolymerization technique, he believes, will enable "prettygood quality compared to what might be the typical stuff on the market"because of superior uniformity, color, and swelling properties.
 
Raubachsays that a wider variety of resins, including scavenger resins thatpull "undesirable materials" out of solutions like fishhooks, mightalso be available from Synthetech within about a year. He sees thepossibility for "a whole variety of these things" once Synthetech hastransferred technology for five base resins–Merrifield, Wang, MBHA,aminomethyl, and chlorotrityl – and brought them to "a marketableposition." Synthetech will cater to the same marketplaces that purchaseits natural and nonnatural peptide building blocks, according toSreenivasan.
 
When Raubach founded CBA in 1981 with his wife Anne, also a chemist,the company worked primarily in a business that he says resembledSynthetech's, but shifted into resins in 1988 after seeing demandsgenerated by solid-phase chemistry and recognizing "a growing need forthe products, and there was a complete vacuum out there at the time."Over its history, CBA manufactured several hundred specialty resins,including some unique derivatized resins, says Raubach, and became"major players in the combinatorial chemistry field."

Lisa Espenschade

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