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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2004 Oct;15(5):469-78.

Alternative bioseparation operations: life beyond packed-bed chromatography.

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  • 1Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Biomedical Engineering, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Chromatography is undoubtedly the workhorse of downstream processes, affording high resolution for bioseparations. At the same time, it has the notoriety of being the single largest cost center in downstream processing and of being a low-throughput operation. Consequently, 'chromatography alternatives' are an attractive proposition, even if only a reduction in the extent of use of packed beds can be realized. This paper reviews the current state of unit operations posing as chromatography alternatives--including membrane filtration, aqueous two-phase extraction, three-phase partitioning, precipitation, crystallization, monoliths and membrane chromatography--and their potential to do the unthinkable.

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