Choice Of Matrices For Bioprocess Separations

The subject of matrices for process chromatography and the requirements of an ideal matrix have been reviewed by many authors (1-3). In process-scale purification, the important characteristics of a matrix are chemical and physical stability, rigidity of the matrix to withstand high flow rates and differing hydrodynamic pressure, uniform porosity, and high surface area. in addition, for most chro-matography applications, surface modification of the matrix will be necessary to facilitate ligand immobilization, which requires the presence of suitable functional groups on the matrix. Finally, the cost and commercial availability of the matrix are also important considerations in selecting a matrix.

The majority of matrices used in chromatography processes can be divided into two categories: natural and synthetic. Natural matrices include glass, silica, ceramic, alumina, agarose, chitosan, and cellulose. Synthetic matrices are prepared by polymerization of functional monomers. The incorporation of monomers with suitable functional groups can provide activation sites on these supports for ligand attachments. There are also the composite matrices, which are mixed networks constituted of at least two components. Generally, one component acts as a rigid skeleton, and the other component has active groups that interact with the biological molecule to be separated. Dextran-coated silica and polyacrylamide-agarose are examples of composite matrices that have been applied to the separation of biological molecules.

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