Boron Molecular To Take RAFT Large Scale

The licensing agreement between CSIRO and Boron Molecular aims to make RAFT polymers accessible and affordable, promoting the adoption of the technology.

Yamini Chinnuswamy | June 11, 2014 | Technology 

AsianScientist (Jun 11, 2014) - Australian company Boron Molecular has secured the rights to manufacture and sell proprietary polymers from the country's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT), a technology discovered by CSIRO and developed in partnership with DuPont, enables the production of complex, multi-functional polymers at low cost and under standard conditions.

Polymers are ubiquitous in modern life, used in everything from dishwashing liquid to hair conditioners. Technologies that improve the polymer synthesis process have potential applications in many industries, including the agriculture, personal care, biomedical, energy, and chemicals sectors, where there is a rising demand for new and improved polymer-derived products.

According to CSIRO, RAFT may well be one such technology. Sometimes referred to as "living polymerisation" by its inventors, it utilises small organic molecules to control polymer growth. Through these molecules, known as RAFT agents, complex polymeric structures can be more readily synthesised across all modes of free-radical polymerisation. In contrast to conventional synthesis methods, RAFT is thought to provide a high degree of flexibility to the process: important parameters such as polymer weight and purity can be more easily regulated, and the synthesis process itself can be stopped and restarted at any time.

One potential application of the technology is in the production of enhanced agrichemicals with improved bioavailability and targeted release mechanisms. In the biomedical market, RAFT could also be used to construct specialised drug delivery vehicles, wherein RAFT-synthesised polymers partner up with siRNA molecules to deliver drugs to targeted cells in the body – all without provoking an immune response, or damaging host tissue.

Despite the technology’s seemingly broad potential, it has only been accessible in small, research-scale quantities, either through licenses or collaborations from CSIRO. Consequently, applications of RAFT have presently been limited to research and evaluation.

Under the terms of the new licensing agreement, Boron Molecular will now be able to mass-manufacture and supply high volumes of RAFT agents for both research and commercial purposes. Both CSIRO and Boron Molecular hope that greater access to the RAFT technology at competitive prices will encourage the development of new and enhanced polymeric products across multiple sectors.

Boron Molecular, a specialist chemicals manufacturer that itself was founded from patents developed at CSIRO, also expects that the new deal will broaden its manufacturing capabilities and expertise.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: CSIRO.