Simulated Moving Bed Chromatography Offers Real Attractions

A continuous purification technique, simulated moving bed chromatography combines high yields and purities with easy scale up and reasonable throughputs.

By Kathleen Mihlbachler, Eli Lilly and Company, and Olivier Dapremont, Aerojet Fine Chemicals

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SMB also can handle more complex separation such as purification of proteins. However, some modifications to the standard unit design are necessary to allow for packing regeneration [7].
As SMB technology becomes more widespread, a larger variety of applications undoubtedly will be developed and publicized.

Real potential
The pharmaceutical industry is investigating SMB as a production tool, attracted by its fast method development and easy scale up. A few roadblocks still exist but they are fading away as more and more units find their way into both industry and universities. Contract manufacturing companies now use SMB units at different scale and major pharmaceutical companies are installing their own production units. As the technology evolves, such systems will become more of a routine unit operation rather than the “niche technology” of a few experts.

Dr. Kathleen Mihlbachler is research scientist in MS&T for Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, Ind. E-mail her at

Dr. Olivier Dapremont is director, chromatographic separations, for Aerojet Fine Chemicals, Rancho Cordova, Calif. E-mail him at

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6. Metz, P. and O. Dapremont, “SMB takes on Paclitaxel,” Pharma. Mfg., 3, Issue 9, p. 27 (Nov/Dec 2004).
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