Antibiotics produced by the isolation of compounds produced in large scale fermentation broths demonstrate the benefits of using activated alumina for large scale industrial application. Peptide fermentation broths yielding useful antibiotics are an integral mainstay of the pharmaceutical industry. Glycopeptides such as vancomycin used for the treatment of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) as well as other gram positive bacteria resistant to penicillin are produced from the genus Actinomycetes. Vancomycin remains the most important antibiotic in the treatment of MRSA. Given the increasing prevalence of MRSA in the community setting, and it’s presence in previously health individuals, the role of this drug in controlling both the spread and disease eradication is gaining global recognition.

Decolorization of crude filtered vancomycin improves the purification of vancomycin with subsequent reversed phase chromatography. The decolorization step also diminishes fouling of the reversed phase packing material, and allows an effected single reverse phase step approaching the purity level of 95% which is acceptable for use as a pharmaceutical agent. Many pharmaceutical firms traditionally use basic anion exchange resins (such as Dow Amberlite FPA98 CL) for decolorization of the crude vancomycin broth. Such basic anion exchange resins were introduced because they had proven more effective and economical than carbon or bore char based technologies for sugar solutions. However, the argument is made that activated alumina provides that ability and much more. Furthermore, due to its amphoteric character, and the ability to manipulate pore sizes, activated alumina can do so much more. The basic ion exchange resins were promoted because they offered a pore structure allowing high molecular weight organics to be easily adsorbed. These ion exchange resins were felt to exhibit good resistance to physical breakdown by attrition and osmotic shock.

There is no material which offers the endurance, the amphoteric properties, as well as the heat and pressure stability of activated alumina. By manipulating the pore size of the specialty alumina to accommodate virtually any high molecular weight organic material, it is possible to provide both decolorizing and polishing for many bio-processing applications such as natural product extraction and the recovery of antibiotics from fermentation broths. Similar application processes provides a cost effective solution for the production of other antibiotic agents. Activated alumina provides a role in both the isolation and purification of antibiotic compounds.

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