Showcasing excellence in process development

17 Jan 2011

The 28th Process Development Symposium organised by the Fine Chemicals Group was held at Churchill College Cambridge from 8 - 10 December 2010. An audience of over 180 was treated to eighteen lectures over three days. Delegates came from across Europe, Asia and North America, invited speakers from Europe and North America and there was a strong presence from exhibitors as well.

This year's conference was particularly noted for its variety, there was a strong supporting line up of speakers who gave case studies from across industry or described recent advances in technology. Notable contributions came from Dr Pieter de Koning (Pfizer, UK) in his case study on the process development of crizotinib, an ALK inhibitor candidate for non-small cell lung cancer and Dr Tom Pounds (Cambridge Display Technology, UK) whose presentation on organic LEDs highlighted the challenging physical properties of these materials coupled with demanding quality targets for display applications. Dr Johann Chan (Amgen, USA) gave an interesting study of how development of new chemical methodology can impact manufacture of clinical candidates. In recent years modified Grignard reagents have broadened the scope of metal-halogen exchange reactions providing greater chemoselectivity without resorting to cryogenic conditions. Dr Bettina Munsch (Chemetall, Germany) demonstrated why these reagents are no longer restricted to laboratory use and can be applied at scale.

The importance of process understanding was a recurrent theme throughout the meeting with benefits demonstrated around scale up and operability, isolation, process safety and protection of IP. Fittingly, the GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Syngenta and Pfizer Prize for Process Chemistry Research for 2010 was presented to Professor Guy Lloyd-Jones (University of Bristol) for his work in this area. His lecture highlighted recent contributions to the mechanistic understanding of esterification using trimethylsilyl(diazomethane), ene-yne metathesis and Suzuki coupling using aryltrifluoroborate reagents along with practical implications for these transformations. Academia was further represented by Professor David Cole-Hamilton (University of St Andrews) on catalytic terminal alkene carbonylation of unsaturated esters and Professor Xumu Zhang (Rutgers University, USA) on asymmetric hydrogenation.

To encourage future generations of process chemists, 15 PhD students from UK institutions received bursaries to attend and all found the experience to be interesting and enjoyable.

After a very successful meeting which really emphasised the strength of the process development discipline, the organisers and delegates can look forward with anticipation to the 29th renewal, which will be held once again at Churchill College Cambridge from 7 - 9 December 2011 (more details to follow). For those signed up to LinkedIn, a group has been set up to allow attendees to maintain contacts made during the meeting

Dr Louis Diorazio, AstraZeneca and SCI Fine Chemicals Group.

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