The aim of the alliance is to combine Solvias' expertise in chemo-catalysis for the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals with Rohner's capacity for pilot- and large-scale production of APIs.
Organic compounds tend to exist in two mirror image forms or optical isomers. Whether a compound is left-handed or right-handed plays a role in many aspects of modern science, but it has a major impact in the pharmaceutical industry. Today the majority of new drugs being introduced are made in one chiral form, and this has led to an increased market for tools used in their production.
Solvias has been busy building a strong position in the development and marketing of asymmetric hydrogenation technologies used to make chiral compounds, and has one of the world's largest ligand libraries. Last October it also signed an agreement with BASF to use these ligands to manufacture optically active intermediates.
"Modern APIs often are stereochemically very demanding," said the two companies in a statement. "The use of modern synthetic methods such as asymmetric hydrogenation, carbonylation, and catalytic coupling reactions on scale is key for cost effective and timely manufacturing of commercial quantities."
The collaboration draws on work by the two companies on the use of transition metal catalysis in the manufacture of stereochemicals, first unveiled at a workshop held in Basel in October 2004.
At this workshop, Rohner and Solvias were able to demonstrate that combining their expertise in the field of TMC improved the economy, quality and speed of synthetic reacions.
Solvias' role in the alliance will be to support process development and to provide Rohner with the appropriately fine tuned catalytic systems (chiral ligands and catalysts) from its library. Rohner will then scale up and manufacture the optically active target molecules on pilot and large scale for its customers.
TMC is a powerful technology for the manufacture of chiral drugs because it opens up new synthetic pathways and allows new and more complex chemical structures to be made, often from cheaper starting materials. Applying TMC can reduce both the cost and the waste associated with syntheses, Rohner's Dr Adriano Indolese told the workshop.
A recently-published report published by Frost & Sullivan predicted that the market for chiral compounds destined for the drug industry alone will rise from $7.0 billion (€6bn) in 2002 to $14.9 billion in 2009. Meanwhile, F&S also predicts that global sales of single-enantiomer compounds will reach $8.57 billion by the end of 2004 and $14.94 billion by the end of 2009, an 11.4 per cent annual growth rate.