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3M Moves From Upstream Clarification To Improving Efficiencies In Downstream Purification

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biotech and bioprocessing interphex interview

At Interphex 2014, Todd and Todd interview Mark Trotter, Marketing Manager with 3M Purification to discuss their biotechnology and bioprocess solutions. With filtration, 3M's focus has been a lot on the upstream applications of the clarification. In the recent years, we've moved into membrane technologies, introducing a new class of hydrophobic membranes called ECTFE used in air applications. Now 3M Purification is introducing an exciting new chromatography product that brings downstream chromatography into upstream clarification areas, which we can get into what would be some of the benefits of.

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Interview Transcription

Todd S:            Good morning. This is Todd and Todd live at New York. Life Science Connect Radio on location direct from Interphex Day #2. Todd, we've got an exciting guest up next.

                        We're at the mid-day point of day #2 and it's just been a stellar morning. I can't wait to continue going. How can we be halfway through the second day? My head's about ready to explode already.

                        I don't know how folks can really understand all this stuff. I really think about the scientific people that are here that truly understand in great depth how all this stuff works. I don't know how they hold all of that in their brain but it sure is fascinating and fun to learn about.

                        We've had a fascinating day so far and our next guest will prove to be no different. Say hello to Mark Trotter. He's a Marketing Manager at 3M Purification. Mark, welcome to the show.

Mark:              Good afternoon.

Todd S:            Good to have you. Thanks for joining us.

Mark:              Thank you.

Todd S:            Before we get into our conversation Mark, take a few quick seconds and tell us a little bit about you and your background.

Mark:              Sure. I've been in the biopharma business and I've been working for manufactures and suppliers to the trade for over 20 years, working with a variety of infiltration companies. I was doing some of my own consulting work for a number a years until I joined up with 3M Purification's Life Science Technology about two years ago.

Todd S:            All right. Well go deep on 3M Purification. What do you do? How do you serve your market?

Mark:              I'm working in the product development or marketing development groups primarily for the life science products. Filtration, the focus has been a lot on the upstream applications of the clarification. In the recent years, we've moved into membrane technologies, introducing a new class of hydrophobic membranes called ECTFE used in air applications.

                        Then we're introducing here at Interphex an exciting new chromatography product that brings downstream chromatography into upstream clarification areas, which we can get into what would be some of the benefits of.

                        The product is called M-Save. It's a hybrid purifier, which incorporates [2:04 inaudible] air exchange media. It's very exciting for us, very exciting technology to bring into this innovative application.

                        We also, of course, have a full line of depth filters. This is what we're known for. Now we've really expanded into technical and scientific service products as well.

Todd S:            Mark, when I think about trying to get my brain around everything that 3M has to offer, I can't do that. I don't think a lot of people can. If I'm in a pharma plant, for example, I know what my problems and issues are.

                        I know what I have to wrestle with specifically. Talk about, in that context, what kind of issues do you help customers address and what kind of problems do you help solve.

Mark:              Well, primarily we're going biotechnology of the bioprocesses so we're dealing with living material, the self-culturing or bacterial or yeast. Those are the engines that manufacture drug products.

                        We help the drug manufactures separate out and purify, clarify separation and purification so that at the end of the day you have an injectable drug product as a therapy.

                         Many of these components are what we refer to as monochromal antibodies. There are also vaccines, just to give an example. Our job is to do the heavy lifting upstream clarification and then with the new end phase hydro purifier, we are introducing chromatography to help improve efficiencies in the downstream purification operation, protecting [3:39] and other downstream processes.

Todd S:            I was just going to ask you, you wet my whistle on this end phase. I wanted to hear more about that. You just touched on that. If you would go a little deeper on that and perhaps share some other new things we should be looking for.

Mark:              Yes, thank you. The end phase, EX hydro purifier, actually combines a number of technologies and steps into one device. As a chromatography media, material is grafted onto a functional non-woven, which gives it some filter capabilities as well as being a chromatographic device.

                        On top of all of that, on the downstream side of these chromatography material is a 0.2-micron bioburden membrane. It's a poly [4:27] membrane which also does some heavy lifting as far as particle removal.

                        Huddling all of these technologies into one device we can reduce cost, provide downstream benefits to prolonging the life of various [4:40] and improving their efficiencies by the early removal upstream of some of the soluble life containments, which we refer to as hotel protein HCP and DNA, which are considered contaminants or fallons for downstream processes.

                        By combining all that technology together with bioburden reduction, you have a very high purity, which is why it’s a purifier, prior to going to downstream operations. That's where we see cost saving is actually providing better performance in downstream steps and stages.

Todd S:            Mark, you're very clearing looking both upstream and downstream as you're talking about these products and where they're applied. It strikes me that, yea, the product is certainly critically important in this whole thing but understanding the process and how all that works, that's got to be equally important. I got to get the right crowd in the right process. I've got to match those things up.

Mark:              That is where we have our scientific and technical services group engineers and scientists. They come in and we basically interview, that would be a good way of putting it, the users of the products so that we can devise the scheme or a filter train with various products to optimize their processes both upstream and downstream.

                        We need the full sweep of understanding so this is a practice not just a project. It's always ongoing. The more we understand the process, and these are multi-step processes, moving from the bioreactor through the clarification stages and separations and purifications to the final fill, it is a complex sale as you would say.

Todd Y:            Talk to us about some of the biopharma trends that Mark Trotter is paying close attention to.

Mark:              As we look around the Interphex floor, one of the products that has really taken over the market and continues to grow is what we refer to as single use technology. I don't know if you had someone on earlier--

Todd S:            We talked about that already.

Mark:              Hardware is not going away. Hardware, I refer to as stainless steel. There is always going to be a place for it but there are cost advantages, in which you've probably already been through. I continue to see that trend within the--

Todd Y:            I'd be happy for you to elaborate on it if you'd like.

Mark:              We're seeing sometimes some of the upper limits of where we can put in polymers and hardware. I think bioreactors, tanks, carboys, and bags. We're approaching what I'd consider probably the upper limit of 2,000 liters. There's some that may even go to 5,000 liters for holding tanks but for practicality purposes.

                        The other thing we've seen trend is higher cell densities, higher product densities, grams per liter. So, therefore the scaling, where we used to have a 20,000 liter bioreactor has moved down 10-fold to a 2,000 liter can have the same efficiency and outputs as far as product yield. So, that's one trend I think will continue forward.

                        One of the things we've been innovative in is bringing some of the technologies that I mentioned from downstream to the upstream locations and at that end phase product.

                        Technology change and the application is improving efficiencies that weren't obtainable before. I see more of that trending like consolidation into multiple steps into single unit devices. This brings those efficiencies and change out and so forth.

Todd S:            Differentiation, what makes 3M Purification different from the one or two perhaps other competitors that are out there?

Mark:              When I think of 3M, we're looking at the life science end of things because there are a myriad of other products obviously that carry the 3M trademark and brand name. In our area, we have a real opportunity to explore new products through our R&D group back in St. Paul and in Meriden, Connecticut.

                        3M is a technology-based company looking at the R&D and process development or product development pipeline. We call upon and have the capacity to work with scientists and engineers in many different materials.

                        I would say material development and material properties, so that we can come out with an innovative product like end phrase hydro purifier, which combines various non-woven technology with chromatographic technology with membrane technology in one device.

                        We look forward to that. That's one of the unique strengths of 3M Purification is we have the huge backing of 3M Corporate Material Development and Research.

Todd S:            How critical is--every organization, large and small, has to innovate and has to be thinking about how to continuously improve their offering to the market. Is there an advantage to having an organization like 3M Corporate behind you empowering you to think about those kinds of things or is there just a natural culture there that is conducive to that environment?

Mark:              You look at the market, you talk to the customers and your end users and you find a need and you look at your current product portfolio and say, "Look, this may be something we need to further explore."

                        Having the resources of 3M Corporate Research and Development behind you is a very positive and motivating factor in bringing another product along into the mix. To say looking to the future, I would say there will be more new things out of 3M Purification, Life Science Technologies in the near future.

Todd S:            Mark, it takes a lot of time, a lot of focus, a lot of effort, a lot of money to exhibit at Interphex, attend this show, and get the most out of it. Why are you here?

Mark:              Obviously to meet the customers, to show off the new innovative end phase hydro purifier. We also have point 1 and point 2-micron membrane filters that are used for sterile infiltration and to exhibit are our premier, our flagship product line of Zeta plus filtration products.

                        Showing that, developing new contacts and doing more problem solving. The show has been very busy today with very interesting application-oriented questions coming from the end users.

                        We're not only here just to get the exposure but we're also here, which is very satisfying, to be a problem-solver and knowing as we leave here weeks or months down the road we'll be interacting with those people, interviewing and problem-solving with those end users and customers. It's good to show new product and also to be meet and greet old friends and colleagues here as well.

Todd Y:            Outstanding. Todd, you know you and I have a lunch break coming up. We might have to go check out this end phase.

Mark:              Come on over guys.

Todd Y:            It's the end phase. There's six other people I want to talk to. I'd love to talk to Mark for another half an hour but holy cow we've got to stretch this day out.

Todd S:            We do. Mark, unfortunately we are running out of time. Before we let you go, how can people get in touch with you and learn more about 3M Purification?

Mark:              3M Purification, you can go online and find us there. We're over there at booth 2145. Please come by and visit us. I'd be happy to show you the end phase, the PDA .2.1 membranes that we have as well as the Zeta plus products.

Todd Y:            I want to see the chromatography stuff.

Mark:              Yea, come on over.

Todd Y:            I think back to when I was a little kid.

Mark:              There you go gentlemen. I appreciate you for having me.

Todd S:            It was a pleasure having you. Mark Trotter, Marketing Manager with 3M Purification. Again, good to have you. Thanks for stopping by and joining us.

                        Well that wraps up this broadcast. On behalf of our guest Mark Trotter, my cohost, Todd Youngblood, I'm Todd Schnick, Life Science Connect Radio's live coverage of Interphex. We'll be right back.