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"That is why we bought the second Alstra"

06 February 2017

Dr. Andrew Jamieson leads a team of peptide chemists at the University of Glasgow, where they synthesize complex molecules for chemical biology applications. An important tool that contributes to their success has been Biotage® Initiator+ Alstra™ microwave peptide synthesizer, and they are even breaking the dogma that only HPLC can be used for peptide purification, by using cutting edge reversed phase flash purification techniques provided by Biotage.


- When we compared with systems that were available commercially, Biotage really stood out as providing a bigger bang for the buck. You got everything all of the other competitors were providing at a much lower cost.

- We move quite quickly in terms of the ideas we come up with. We generally have meetings with our collaborators and identify a biological problem. We then design molecules that we think can contribute to solving that problem, and so we want to make the molecules quickly. When we promise molecules to our collaborators, we absolutely have to deliver, and we want to deliver quickly. The Alstra allows us to do that. We can make the molecules that we want to make, and a lot of these are quite to the standard peptide chemistry that we use – the macrocyclizations and the like, post-translational modifications. The setup of the Alstra really allows us to deliver that. We found it incredibly difficult to do some of the chemistry using the other system, and that is really why we bought the second Alstra.

- We generally make peptides of 10 to 15 residues in length. The longest peptide we’ve purified on the Isolera is about 20 residues. Once one student uses it and has a good experience, then word travels fast. As I build up the group, the current students are using the Isolera, and so I envisage as more people join the group, they will also learn to use the Isolera for purification of peptides.

- We do a lot of work synthesizing enantiopure amino acids and used the Isolera a lot for that method. But then at one point we realized that Biotage sold the reversed phase flash cartridges. Some of my students did a lot of complaining about having to do multiple injections on the semi-prep HPLC and I said well, why don't you just get a reversed phase cartridge and use the Isolera. I think it opened their eyes to stop going with the dogma that when you are purifying a peptide you’ve got to use HPLC – because it’s not the case. It’s just chromatography! If you produce a peptide of sufficient purity with no critical impurities, why not use the Isolera? It’s just as efficient, probably faster in some instances than using HPLC. The thing they like the most is the speed. HPLC always comes with a queue of people waiting to use it because it is an inherently slow process, but the Isolera tends to be a lot faster with shorter gradients, so for peptides which were relatively pure after synthesis, it was a really good technique to use for purification.

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