Reducing Chemical Waste and Manufacturing Costs for Integrated Micro-Chromatography Systems, Inc.

Bringing Technology to Market

The South Carolina Fraunhofer USA Alliance (SCFUSA) is a collaborative effort between the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness (SC Competes), the South Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Fraunhofer USA network. The alliance was created to advance applied research across the state of South Carolina with the Fraunhofer USA network and South Carolina research institutions.

In 2022 the South Carolina Fraunhofer USA Alliance Review Board co-funded an applied research project, led by Clemson University and Fraunhofer USA, focused on providing a key deliverable – to develop Integrated Micro-Chromatography Systems, Inc., (IMCS), an improved bacterial host and new intellectual property to further secure the company’s long-term operations. IMCS previously relied on pre-templated bioreactor runs with limited optimizations and the bacterial host for the existing process was purchased routinely from a third party. This was not ideal for production use as it requires a significant quantity of chemicals to support the process at that time.

IMCS desired to provide a commercially available product for the treatment of various neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. According to the Mayo Clinic,
3 million cases of Alzheimer’s disease are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. Additionally, more than 200,000 cases of Parkinson’s disease and approximately 30,000 cases of Huntington’s disease are diagnosed annually. Traumatic brain injury, impacting nearly seven million Americans, is another neurological injury that may benefit from this compound.

As a result of this successful collaborative project, the newly developed process using enzymes, called chemoenzymatic manufacturing, resulted in three significant improvements to IMCS’s competitive process:

  • Reduction in manufacturing cost by several orders of magnitude
  • Increase to the stability and robustness of IMCS supply chain due to vertical integration
  • Significant reduction in chemical waste disposal costs

IMCS, a Columbia, South Carolina-based life-sciences company, was founded in January 2013, by Andrew Lee, Qian Wang and William Brewer, three Ph.D. scientists from the University of South Carolina (USC). Its rapid success stemmed from the company’s unique technology, the founder’s experience running other biotechnology companies and support from the city of Columbia, the USC and the local USC-Columbia incubator program.