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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Future of Liquid Chromatography

Robert Plumb and Jeffrey R Mazzeo at Waters outline the crucial factors for choosing a new liquid chromatography platform

Analytical laboratories face the continual challenge of balancing investment in new technology to improve throughput and performance with the need to run existing methods and tests to support current production. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is one of these key analytical technologies that has become a major tool for food safety testing, life science studies, and pharmaceutical, environmental and chemical analysis.

  • In the pharmaceutical industry, HPLC is employed throughout the whole drug analysis process, including drug discovery screening, raw material analysis, impurity profiling, stability studies, pharmacokinetic studies and final product testing.
  • HPLC has found great application in the environmental and chemical analysis arena, where it has been employed for testing water quality, soil samples and product quality.
  • Food safety analysis has also benefited from the capabilities of HPLC either alone or in combination with mass spectrometry (MS), allowing food to be rapidly assessed for contaminants such as pesticides or veterinary drugs.

The popularity of liquid chromatography is due to its speed of analysis, compatibility with samples to be analysed, ease-ofuse, simple interfacing with a wide range of detectors (optical, electrochemical, radiochemical, evaporative light scattering, NMR and MS), wide range of stationary phases, high resolving power and easy scale-up to preparative chromatography.

Over the last two years, several instrument manufacturers have introduced liquid chromatography systems that are designed to take advantage of columns packed with smaller particles. Compared to traditional LCs, these instruments are capable of higher pressure operation, have reduced system volumes, use faster autosamplers and employ detectors with much higher data capture rates. All of these elements are required to leverage the benefits of higher resolution, sensitivity and throughput offered by columns packed with smaller particles. R&D and method development laboratories have extensively adopted these new LC platforms, as they greatly improve the efficiency of product development.


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Dr Robert Plumb is responsible for the laboratory function within the pharmaceutical business operations organisation at Waters. Rob started at Waters in 2001, working in the life sciences R&D department, before moving to the worldwide marketing group in 2003 to manage the pharmaceutical laboratory. Prior to joining Waters, Rob worked for GlaxoWellcome, with the responsibility of metabolite identification using HPLC/MS/NMR and new analytical technology development. Rob obtained an Honours degree in Biochemistry from the University of Hertfordshire in 1992 and obtained a PhD in 1999. He is currently an Honorary Reader at Imperial College London in the Faculty of Medicine.

Jeffrey R Mazzeo received his PhD from Northeastern University in 1992, working under the direction of Professor Ira Krull. He joined Waters after graduating and continued to work in the area of CE, focusing on chiral separations and ion analysis. After leaving Waters in 1996, Jeff joined GelTex Pharmaceuticals as a method development chemist, after which he worked briefly at the CRO Charles River Laboratories as a Bioanalytical Chemist. He rejoined Waters as Manager of the Applied Technology group in the chemistry operations division. Jeff spent seven years in the chemistry operations of Waters, becoming Director of Applied Technology. He is currently Director of Biopharmaceutical Business in the worldwide marketing group at Waters.

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Dr Robert Plumb
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Jeffrey R Mazzeo
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