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J Chromatogr A. 2008 Mar 14;1184(1-2):62-79. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2007.12.087. Epub 2008 Jan 9.

Polymethacrylate monoliths for preparative and industrial separation of biomolecular assemblies.

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Austrian Center of Biopharmaceutical Technology, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Monoliths are considered as the fourth-generation chromatography material. Their use for preparative separation of biomolecules has been evolved over the past decade. Monolithic columns up to 8L in size are already commercially available for separation of large biomolecules such as proteins, protein aggregates, plasmid DNA, and viruses. These applications leverage monoliths' inherent properties, such as fast operation and high capacity for large biomolecules. The height equivalent to a theoretical plate (HETP) and dynamic binding capacity do not change with velocity. This is explained by the convective transport through the channels with a diameter of above 1000 nm and has been experimentally verified and also supported by theoretical analyses. Despite low absolute surface area, these large channels provide enough area for adsorption of these large biomolecules, which cannot penetrate into conventional chromatography media designed for protein separation. Monoliths for preparative separations are mainly cast as polymethacrylate or polyacrylamide blocks and have been functionalized as ion exchangers or hydrophobic interaction chromatography media. So-called cryogels have channels more than 30 microm wide, enabling efficient processing of suspensions or even cell-chromatography. This review discusses the pressure drop characteristics, mass transfer properties, scale-up, and applications of monoliths in the context of conventional chromatography media.

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