PI: James Hsu
Co-PI(s): Lori Herz
University: Lehigh University

The objective of this project is to develop a multidimensional supercritical fluids chromatography (SFC) system for epilepsy medicine purification. Supercritical fluids (SF) have densities and dissolving capacities similar to those of certain liquids, but lower viscosities and better diffusion properties. Accordingly, SF used as mobile phases in chromatography should act both as substance carriers like the mobile phases in gas chromatography and also dissolve these substances like the solvents in liquid chromatography. SFC with packed columns has stationary phases having much higher surface area to void volume ratios, and thus it has much higher separation efficiency. The supercritical carbon dioxide used in this project is an environmentally friendly solvent, and has less waste solvent treatment problems.

Recently, FDA has approved a drug, Epidiolex, which is derived from hemp oil. Epidiolex can be used to treat Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two rare forms of epilepsy that affect children. Epidiolex's active ingredient is cannabidiol, also known as CBD, which can be extracted from hemp oil. The FDA’s approval is a reminder that properly evaluating active ingredients contained in hemp oil can lead to important medical therapies.

However, to produce large quantity of pure CBD for medical therapies is a very challenging problem. The hemp oil contains two dozen major species. These species will be fractioned into a pure sample of each one for medical evaluation. In this project, fractionating these compounds will use a cascade multidimensional supercritical chromatography (SFC) system with packed columns.