Huge advances in biotechnology have led to an array of drugs for once-untreatable diseases. But the $50 billion industry continues to struggle with purification of proteins and vaccines in the manufacture of many life-saving drugs.
This one step, says Oleg Shinkazh, founder of ChromaTan
in State College, is a bottleneck, creating vast inefficiencies and wasting millions. Over 10 years, Shinkazh, a chemical and biotechnology engineer, kept coming up against the problem, growing increasing frustrated.
That frustration led Shinkazh to invent a new technology called Continuous Countercurrent Tangential Chromatography (CCTC) that he claims will revolutionize the industry by providing a scalable, disposable and cost-saving alternative to the prevailing approach.
Shinkazh founded ChromaTan in 2009. The company is currently in the late stage of testing its prototype and actively fund raising with the expectation of selling beta-test systems by late 2013-early 2014. A full commercial launch is planned by the end of 2014.
Proximity to Penn State has been a significant factor, and the company collaborates with Dr. Andrew Zydney, the head of Penn State's Department of Chemical Engineering, Shinkazh says.
ChromaTan has raised significant capital from angel investors, family and friends and a total of $275,000 – including $125,000 in the most recent round – from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania. The company is currently awaiting word on a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. With those funds, Shinkazh says, "We can really start scaling up."
The company currently has three full-time employees, along with an intern and consultants. Shinkazh hopes to add at least two more to the team this year.
Source: Oleg Shinkazh, ChromaTan
Writer: Elise Vider