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Widespread Applications of Countercurrent Chromatography in the Life Sciences Industry

Solid-liquid chromatography techniques are the workhorses of the chromatography industries. The industry uses it widely, and the adoption rate has been increased tremendously in the last ten years.

However, the usages of liquid-liquid chromatography by the medical professionals and researchers have highlighted the essentiality and benefits of liquid-liquid chromatography. It is also known as countercurrent chromatography.

The adoption rate of countercurrent chromatography had been increasing at a languid pace in the previous decade. This was due to the poor engineering of instruments, chromatography columns, and other accessories.

Also, countercurrent chromatography was mostly used in academic research, and decidedly less in purification techniques for the life science industries.  

Broad Scope in the Healthcare Industry

There are several applications of this type of chromatography separation technique in the laboratory scale and on an industrial scale. It includes separation of macromolecules, isolation of target molecules, and separation of enantiomers, fractionation, and others.

It indeed has a broad range of applications in several industries, such as chemicals and materials, food and beverage testing, and life sciences.

In the life science industry, this type of technique is mostly used in purifying several compounds. This owes to the high level of scalability of countercurrent chromatography. A compound of a milligram to a kilogram quantity can get purified through the technique.

In addition to that, it also accommodates the complex samples containing undissolved particulates. This separation technique is useful during the manufacturing of several compounds such as:

  • Deoxyribonucleic Acids
  • Protein Compounds
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)-Based Products Made from Cannabis Sativa
  • Vitamins
  • Antibiotics
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Pesticides
  • Natural Products
  • Metal Ions
  • Enantiomers
  • Active Enzymes 
  • Poly-Aromatic Hydrocarbons Obtained from Environmental Samples
  • Carbon Nanotubes

CBD and Countercurrent Chromatography

CBD has attracted the interest of several pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as it can act as a therapeutic medicine for conditions such as inflammation, cancer, chronic pain, and epilepsy.

The purification of the cannabidiol compound from the resin, on the surface of the Cannabis sativa plant, is carried out using countercurrent separation.

This purification technique has a substantial role in the potency of the final product, as it is essential to avoid any contamination with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Countercurrent Technique in Drug Discovery

During the drug discovery process, the functionality of receptor binding assays can be hampered owing to the non-specific binding of active compounds. Therefore, a fractionation step is vital to keep these non-specific compounds at bay.

Countercurrent chromatography, along with the multichannel fractionation process, can result in the fractionation of various types of extracts and compounds.

Countercurrent in Enantiomer Separation Process

Technically, for enantiomer separation, high-pressure liquid chromatography is highly used to obtain results. However, countercurrent is also being useful nowadays to scale up the preparative scale. Some of the compounds used include warfarin, chlorpheniramine, and gemifloxacin enantiomers. 

Apart from these, countercurrent chromatography has successful applications in the preparation of pesticides, herbicides, and many more synthetic pharmaceutical products.

This type of chromatography can augment the productivity of a chemist in terms of the development of compounds that were previously uneconomical to isolate and produce.

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