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Title:
METHOD FOR PRODUCING PANCREATIN WHICH CONTAINS LOW AMOUNTS OF RESIDUAL ORGANIC SOLVENT AND PRODUCT THEREOF
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1998/038292
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Disclosed is a method of producing pancreatin which contains low amounts of residual organic solvent, and more particularly a method which is more environmentally friendly than the conventional methods used for the production of pancreatin, in as much as it uses quantities of organic solvents which are 15 to 20 times lower than that of the conventional methods. In this method, a pancreatic paste is autolysed, decontaminated, subjected to an ultrafiltration, dried and then defatted. The so obtained pancreatin preparation has less than 750 ppm and preferably less than 300 ppm of residual organic solvent.

Inventors:
El Abboudi, Mouhsine (Apartment 6, 2026 Muir Ste-Foy, Quebec G1V 2G7, CA)
Beaulieu, Martin (Apartment 9, 8164 du Mistral Charny, Quebec G6X 3M8, CA)
Bellavance, Francis (1307 du Cran, St. Romuald, Quebec G6W 5Y8, CA)
Application Number:
PCT/CA1998/000135
Publication Date:
September 03, 1998
Filing Date:
February 20, 1998
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BIOZYMES INC. (Cit� Universitaire, Pavillon Comtois Lab. 0035-H Sainte-Foy, Quebec G1K 7P4, CA)
International Classes:
C12N9/94; (IPC1-7): C12N9/94
Foreign References:
DE2634620A11978-02-02
DE4203315A11992-08-20
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Robic (55 St. Jacques, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 3X2, CA)
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Claims:
CLAIMS
1. A method of producing a pancreatin concentrate, comprising the steps of: a) incubating for 2 to 7 days a pancreatic paste with a mixture comprising a viscosity reducing agent and an antimicrobial agent in order to produce an autolysed and decontaminated pancreatic mixture having a viscosity which enables ultrafiltration thereof; b) subjecting said pancreatic mixture to ultrafiltration in order to obtain a concentrated fatcontaining pancreatin preparation; c) drying the concentrated fatcontaining pancreatin preparation in presence of at least one enzyme protecting agent; and d) defatting the concentrated fatcontaining pancreatin preparation obtained in step c) in order to obtain said pancreatin concentrate.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the viscosity of the pancreatic mixture used in step a) is between approximately 5 and 8 centipoise units.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein the viscosity of the pancreatic mixture used in step a) is between approximately 5 and 8 centipoise units.
4. The method of claim 1, 2 or 3, wherein the viscosity reducing agent and the antimicrobial agent used in step a) are the same agent.
5. The method of claim 4, wherein: step a) is conducted in a fedbatch manner; said same agent is present at an initial concentration which enables a reduction of said viscosity of said pancreatic paste; and said concentration of said same agent is then increased to a final concentration which enables a reduction of bacterial cell count, with said final concentration being chosen so as to minimize a precipitation of pancreatic enzymes in said pancreatic mixture.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein said same agent is isopropanol and said initial and final concentrations thereof in step a) are about 10% (v/p) and about 25% (v/p), respective.
7. The method of any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein a bacterial cell count of said pancreatic mixture obtained in step a) as expressed in colony forming units per gram, is below approximately 500.
8. The method of any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein said pancreatin concentrate contains less than about 750 ppm of residual solvent.
9. A method of producing a pancreatin concentrate which minimizes use of organic solvent, said method comprising: a) an autolysing step which comprises the substep of preparing a pancreatic mixture comprising a pancreatic paste, a viscosity reducing agent and an antimicrobial agent, and incubating of said pancreatic mixture for a sufficient time to obtain an autolysed and decontaminated pancreatic mixture having a viscosity which enables ultrafiltration thereof; b) an extraction step which comprises the substeps of incubating said pancreatic mixture obtained in step a) with an enzymatic stabilizing agent to obtain a slurry, and centrifugating said slurry to eliminate tissues and particles, thereby obtaining a pancreatic enzyme solution; c) a concentration step wherein said pancreatic enzyme solution is subjected to an ultrafiltration using an ultrafiltration membrane having a cutoff of from about 5,000 to about 30,000 Da, whereby a retentate is recovered; d) a drying step wherein said retentate is dried in the presence of at least one enzyme protecting agent, thereby obtaining a concentrated fat containing pancreatin preparation; e) a defatting step which comprises the substeps of incubating of said concentrated fatcontaining pancreatin preparation with an organic solvent to obtain a solvent phase and a pancreatin concentrate phase, and separating the solvent phase from the pancreatin concentrate phase; and f) another drying step wherein said pancreatin concentrate phase is dried to remove residual traces of solvent in order to obtain said pancreatin concentrate.
10. 1 0.
11. The method of claim 9, wherein the viscosity of the pancreatic mixture used in step a) is between approximately 5 and 8 centipoise units.
12. The method of claim 10, wherein the viscosity of the pancreatin mixture used in step a) is between approximately 5 and 6 antipoise units.
13. 1 2.
14. The method of claim 9, 10 or 11, wherein the viscosity reducing agent and the antimicrobial agent used in step a) are the same agent.
15. The method of claim 12, wherein: step a) is conducted in a fedbatch manner; said same agent is present at an initial concentration which enables a reduction of said viscosity of said pancreatic mixture; and said concentration of said same agent is then increased to a final concentration which enables a reduction of bacterial cell count, with said final concentration being chosen so as to minimize a precipitation of pancreatic enzymes in said pancreatic mixture.
16. 1 4.
17. The method of claim 13, wherein said same agent is isopropanol and said initial and final concentrations thereof in step a) are about 10% (v/p) and about 25% (v/p), respectively.
18. The method of any one of claims 9 to 14, wherein a bacterial cell count of said pancreatic mixture obtained in step a) as expressed in colony forming units per gram is below approximately 500.
19. 1 6.
20. The method of claim 14 or 15, wherein said final concentration of isopropanol in step a) is about 810% (v/v).
21. The method of claim 9, wherein: in step a), the pancreatic mixture comprises said pancreatic paste, Cacti2, NaCI and isopropanol at an initial concentration of 10% (v/p), said isopropanol acting as said viscosity reducing agent and said antimicrobial agent, and said pancreatic mixture is incubated for 2 days at a temperature of about 150C, at which time a further 15% (v/p) of isopropanol is added to said pancreatic mixture and incubated for 2 further days; in step b), the autolysed and decontaminated pancreatic mixture having a viscosity which enables ultrafiltration thereof is diluted in an extraction solution comprising NaCI, starch and sorbitol to obtain a slurry having a final concentration of isopropanol of approximately 8% (v/v), and said slurry is incubated at room temperature for approximately 3 hours and centrifuged to eliminate tissues and particles; in step c), the pancreatic enzyme solution is ultrafiltered through ultrafiltration membranes having a cutoff of about 10,000 Da, at a flow rate of about 4 liters/min; in step d), the retentate is supplemented with starch and spraydried using inlet and outlet temperatures of about 1800C and 650C, respectively; in step e), the fatcontaining pancreatin preparation is defatted with hexane for about 60 min at room temperature; and in step f), the pancreatin concentrate phase recovered from step e) is airdried to remove residual traces of solvent.
22. 1 8. The method of any one of claims 1 to 17, wherein the at least one enzyme protecting agent is selected from the group consisting of starch and Arabic gum, maltodextrins, gelatin and sugar.
23. 1 9.
24. A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 750 ppm of residual organic solvent, as prepared by the method of any one of claims 1 to 1 8.
25. A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 500 ppm of residual organic solvent, as prepared by the method of any one of claims 1 to 18.
26. A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 300 ppm of residual organic solvent, as prepared by the method of any one of claim 1 to 18.
27. A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 750 ppm of residual organic solvent.
28. A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 500 ppm of residual organic solvent.
29. A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 300 ppm of residual organic solvent. AMENDED CLAIMS [received by the International Bureau on 10 August 1998 (10.08.98); original claims 124 replaced by amended claims 123 (5pages)] 1. A method for preparing a pancreatin concentrate having very low amount of residual organic solvent, comprising the steps of: a) incubating in a fedbatch manner a pancreatic tissue paste with a mixture comprising a viscosity reducing agent and an antimicrobial agent, for 2 to 7 days in order to produce an autolysed and decontaminated pancreatic mixture having a viscosity which enables ultrafiltration thereof, wherein said viscosity reducing agent is present at an initial concentration that is sufficient for reducing the viscosity of the pancreatic tissue paste, and wherein said viscosity reducing agent and said antimicrobial agent are then added to reach a final concentration of both of said viscosity reducing agent and said antimicrobial agent that is sufficient to reduce bacterial cell count, to minimize a precipitation of pancreatic enzymes in said pancreatic mixture and to promote ultrafiltration; b) diluting the pancreatic tissue paste obtained in step a) with an aqueous extraction solution in order to obtain a pancreatic aqueous slurry; c) subjecting the pancreatic aqueous slurry produced in step b) to an ultrafiltration in order to obtain a concentrated fatcontaining pancreatic preparation; d) drying the concentrated fatcontaining pancreatin preparation obtained in step c); and e) defatting the dried concentrated fatcontaining pancreatin preparation obtained in step d) in order to obtain said pancreatin concentrate.
30. 2 The method of claim 1 wherein the pancreatin concentrate obtained following step e) contains less than about 750 ppm of residual solvent.
31. 3 The method of claim 1 or 2 wherein the viscosity reducing agent and the antimicrobial agent used in step a) are the same agent.
32. 4 The method of claim 3, wherein said agent is isopropanol and the initial and final concentrations in step a) are about 10% (v/p) and about 25% (v/p), respectively.
33. 5 A method for preparing a pancreatin concentrate having a very low amount of residual organic solvent while minimizing use of organic solvent, said method comprising: a) an autolysing step which comprises preparing a pancreatic mixture comprising a pancreatic tissue paste, a viscosity reducing agent and an antimicrobial agent, and incubating said pancreatic mixture for a time sufficient to yield an autolysed and decontaminated pancreatic mixture having a viscosity which promotes ultrafiltration thereof; b) an extraction step which comprises incubating the pancreatic mixture obtained in step a) with an aqueous extraction solution to obtain a pancreatic aqueous slurry, and centrifuging said slurry to eliminate tissues and particles, thereby obtaining a pancreatic enzyme solution; c) a concentration step wherein said pancreatic enzyme solution is subjected to an ultrafiltration using an ultrafiltration membrane having a cutoff of from about 5,000 to about 30,000 Da, whereby a retentate is recovered; d) a drying step wherein said retentate is dried thereby obtaining a dried concentrated fatcontaining pancreatin preparation; e) a defatting step which comprises incubating the dried concentrated fat containing pancreatin preparation obtained in step d) with an organic solvent to obtain a solvent phase and a pancreatin concentrate phase and separating the solvent phase from the pancreatin concentrate phase; and f) another drying step wherein said pancreatin concentrate phase is dried to remove residual traces of solvent, in order to obtain said pancreatin concentrate.
34. 6 The method of claim 5 wherein the aqueous extraction solution of step b) comprises an enzymatic stabilizing agent.
35. 7 The method of claim 5 or 6 wherein step d) said retentate is dried in the presence of at least one enzyme protecting agent.
36. 8 The method of claim 7, wherein said at least one enzyme protecting agent is selected from the group consisting of starch, Arabic gum, maltodextrins, gelatin and sugar.
37. 9 The method of any one of claims 5 to 8 wherein the pancreatin concentrate obtained following step e) contains less than about 750 ppm of residual solvent.
38. 10 The method of any one of claims 5 to 9, wherein the viscosity reducing agent and the antimicrobial agent used in step a) are the same agent.
39. 11 The method of claim 10, wherein said agent is isopropanol and said initial and final concentration thereof in step a) are about 10% (v/p) and about 25% (v/p), respectively.
40. 12 The method of claim 11, wherein before step b), the pancreatic mixture of step a) is diluted with water so that the concentration of isopropanol in said pancreatic mixture for said extraction step is about 810% (v/v).
41. 13 The method of any one of claims 11 or 12 wherein: in step a), the pancreatic mixture comprises said pancreatic tissue paste, CaCI2, NaCI and isopropanol acting as both said viscosity reducing agent and antimicrobial agent, said isopropanol being present at an initial concentration of 10% (v/p) in step a), the pancreatic mixture is incubated for 2 days at a temperature of about 15"C, at which time a further 15% (v/p) of isopropanol is added to said pancreatic mixture and incubated for 2 further days; in step b), the autolysed and decontaminated pancreatic mixture having a viscosity which promotes ultrafiltration thereof is diluted with an aqueous extraction solution comprising NaCI, starch and sorbitol to obtain a slurry having a final concentration of isopropanol of approximately 8% (v/v), and said slurry is incubated at room temperature for approximately 3 hours and centrifuged to eliminate tissues and particles, thereby obtaining the pancreatic enzyme solution; in step c), the pancreatic enzyme solution is ultrafiltered through ultrafiltration membranes having a cutoff of about 30,000 Da; in step e), the dried fatcontaining pancreatin preparation is defatted with hexane for about 60 min at room temperature; and in step f), the pancreatin concentrate phase recovered from step e) is air dried to remove residual traces of solvent.
42. 14 The method of any one of claims 1 to 13, wherein the viscosity of said pancreatic aqueous slurry is between approximately 5 to 8 centipoise units.
43. 15 The method of claim 14, wherein the viscosity of said pancreatic aqueous slurry is between approximately 5 to 6 centipoise units.
44. 16 The method of any one of claims 1 to 15, wherein a bacterial cell count of said pancreatic mixture following step a) as expressed in colony forming units per gram is below approximately 500.
45. 17 The method of any one of claims 1 to 16, wherein the quantity of organic solvent used in step e) is about 10 times less than for pancreatin preparation methods wherein defatting is effected prior to the concentration step.
46. 18 A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 750 ppm of residual organic solvent, as prepared by the method of any one of claims 1 to 17.
47. 19 A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 500 ppm of residual organic solvent, as prepared by the method of any one of claims 1 to 17.
48. 20 A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 300 ppm of residual organic solvent, as prepared by the method of any one of claims 1 to 17.
49. 21 A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 750 ppm of residual organic solvent.
50. 22 A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 500 ppm of residual organic solvent.
51. 23 A pancreatin preparation containing less than about 300 ppm of residual organic solvent. STATEMENT UNDER ARTICLE 19 The original set of 24 claims has been deleted and replaced by a new set of 23 claims. As will be noticed, the new claims make it clear that the method according to the invention is intended to be used for preparing (not producing) a pancreatin concentrate having very low amount of residual organic solvent and that such a concentrate is obtained at the end of the sequence of steps. The new claims incorporate the extraction step [identified as step b)] as an essential step. A support for this restriction can be found in former claim 9 as well as in the original description. It is worth noting that the statement of the invention on pages 4 and 5 of the disclosure presently on file should be amended to conform with the invention as now reflected in newly submitted claims 1 and 5.
Description:
METHOD FOR PRODUCING PANCREATIN WHICH CONTAINS LOW AMOUNTS OF RESIDUAL ORGANIC SOLVENT AND PRODUCT THEREOF FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a method of producing pancreatin which contains low amounts of residual organic solvent, and more particularly to a method which is more environmentally friendly than conventional methods of pancreatin production. More specifically, the invention relates to a method which utilizes quantities of organic solvents which are 1 5 to 20 times lower than that of conventional methods.

The invention also relates to a pancreatin preparation which contains low amounts of residual solvent.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Pancreatin is a mixture of enzymes obtained by extraction of the pancreas which consists essentially of lipase, amylase and protease. A more detailed definition of pancreatin can be found for example in the United States Pharmacopoeia-The National Formulary 1 990 (United States Pharmacopoeial Convention, Inc., USP XXII, starting at page 1007). Pancreatin has a variety of uses including uses in human and veterinary medicine, wherein it can be used to correct digestive deficiencies.

Pancreatin which consists of dried defatted pancreas is prepared from fresh or frozen pancreas by methods which are aimed at preserving the enzymatic activities present in the pancreas. Although pancreas from different animal origin can be used as the starting material, porcine pancreas is usually preferred due to its higher amylolytic and lipolytic activities.

The numerous known methods for producing pancreatin usually involve a treatment of the pancreas through an autolysis, a degreasing and a drying step (US-A-3,956,483 to Lewis). The autolysis step is determinant in

producing a pancreatin having high enzymatic activities, since enzymes present in the pancreas need to be converted from their inactive form to their activated form. For example, the pro-enzymes of the proteases present in a comminuted, frozen or thawed pancreas are activated by the addition of trypsin and enterokinase and incubation thereof in the presence of water, salt solutions, or solvents such as glycerin, 25% ethanol and 20% acetic acid (US-A-4,019,958, to Hell et al.). Precipitation with inorganic salts, organic solvents, or tannins followed by a drying step are most generally performed on such extracts.

One particular method of autolysing a pancreas preparation is disclosed in US-A-4,623,624 to Schultze, which teaches the use of isopropanol or acetone therefor and the obtention of a pancreatin preparation having a low germ count due to the isopropanol treatment. Unfortunately, this method also encompasses the use of high concentration and hence large volumes of isopropanol to stop the autolysis and precipitate the pancreatin.

Pancreatin can also be produced by removing water from the comminuted pancreas, by freeze-drying, vacuum drying or the like followed by a fat-extraction step with organic solvents such as acetone, alcohols and ether. The use of acetone for defattening is commonly known (US-A-3,168,448 to Melzer et al and US-A-3,956,493 to Lewis). Since the defattening step is not performed on the concentrated pancreatin but rather, on cruder preparations thereof, large quantities of solvents are required. WO 91/07948 of Atzl et al. published June 1 3 1991, for example, teaches the use of 4000 liters of acetone for 1000 kg of pancreas pulp.

Traditional methods of pancreatin production also teach the use of large volumes of isopropanol: at a concentration of 10% to 20% (v/p) for autolysis, 20% (v/v) for the extraction step and 80% (v/v) for the precipitation.

Since large volumes of pancreas preparations are treated, large quantities of solvent, such as isopropanol, are used.

In view of the problems associated with the management of organic solvents and the costs thereof, thus there is a need for a method of pancreatin

production which minimises the use of organic solvents.

There is also a need for a method of pancreatin production which permits to produce a pancreatin preparation containing less traces of organic solvents than the conventionally produced pancreatin preparations.

The present invention seeks to meet these and other needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a simple and effective method of producing pancreatin, which minimizes the use of organic solvents.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a simple and effective method of producing pancreatin on a large scale, wherein the extraction and concentration of the enzymes are performed with minimal amounts of organic solvent.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a method wherein a decrease in the viscosity of the pancreas preparation and a significant diminution of the microbial load are obtained in a single step.

It is still another object of the invention to provide a method of producing a pancreatin concentrate which avoids a precipitation step that can be accompanied by significant losses of enzymatic activity.

Further, it is an object of the invention to provide a method of producing pancreatin, whereby the defatting of the mixture is effected on an active pancreatin preparation.

It is yet another object of the invention to provide a method for producing pancreatin which permits to obtain a pancreatin preparation that contains less traces of organic solvents than the pancreatin preparation obtained by the conventional methods.

In a related matter, it is an object of the invention to provide a pancreatin preparation which contains less traces of organic solvents than conventionally by prepared pancreatin preparations.

It is another object of the invention to provide a pancreatin preparation which displays at least equivalent enzymatic activities as conventionally prepared pancreatin preparations.

In accordance with the invention, the above objects are achieved with a method of producing pancreatin, whereby the defatting of the mixture is effected on an active pancreatin preparation.

The method of producing a pancreatin concentrate according to the invention comprises the steps of: a) incubating for 2 to 7 days a pancreatic paste with a mixture comprising a viscosity reducing agent and an antimicrobial agent to produce an autolysed and decontaminated pancreatic mixture; b) subjecting the pancreatic mixture to ultrafiltration in order to obtain concentrated fat-containing pancreatin preparation; c) drying the concentrated fat-containing pancreatin preparation in the presence of at least one enzyme protecting agent; and d) defatting of the concentrated fat-containing pancreatin preparation obtaining in step c) in order to obtain the requested pancreatin concentrate.

In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, the above mentioned method of producing a pancreatin concentrate, which minimizes use of organic solvent, comprises: a) an autolysing step which comprises the sub-step of preparing a pancreatic mixture comprising a pancreatic paste, a viscosity reducing agent and an antimicrobial agent, and incubating of the pancreatic mixture for a sufficient time to obtain an autolysed and decontaminated pancreatic mixture having a viscosity which enables ultrafiltration thereof; b) an extraction step which comprises the sub-steps of incubating said pancreatic mixture obtained in step a) with an enzymatic stabilizing agent to obtain a slurry, and centrifugating the slurry to eliminate tissues and particles, thereby obtaining a pancreatic enzyme solution;

c) a concentration step wherein the pancreatic enzyme solution is subjected to an ultrafiltration using an ultrafiltration membrane having a cut-off of from about 5,000- to about 30,000- Da, whereby a retentate is recovered; d) a drying step wherein the retentate is dried in the presence of at least one enzyme protecting agent, thereby obtaining a concentrated fat- containing pancreatin preparation; e) a defatting step which comprises the sub-steps of incubating of the concentrated fat-containing pancreatin preparation with an organic solvent to obtain a solvent phase and a pancreatin concentrate phase, and separating the solvent phase from the pancreatin concentrate phase; and f) another drying step wherein the pancreatin concentrate phase is dried to remove residual traces of solvent, whereby the requested pancreatin concentrate is obtained.

In accordance with the invention, there is also provided a pancreatin preparation containing less than about 750 ppm of organic solvent. Preferably, this pancreatin preparation which can be produced as disclosed hereinabove, contains less than about 500 ppm and more preferably less than 300 ppm of organic solvent.

The invention and its advantages will be better understood upon reading the following non-restrictive detailed description.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION In the following description as well as in the appended claims, the term "organic solvent" should be construed as comprising a mixture of more than one organic solvent.

Similarly, the term "viscosity reducing agent" is meant to cover agents which enable the decrease in the viscosity of a pancreatic mixture through a DNA degradation. The autolysis and decontamination step which is the first step of the method according to the invention can be performed for a period of from 2 to 7 days, most preferably from 3 to 4 days in the presence of the above

mentioned viscosity reducing agent and antimicrobial agent, which can be the same.

While in the following description, the autolysis step is disclosed as being carried out with isopropanol, the invention is not and should not be considered as limited to the use of this alcohol. Other viscosity decreasing agent could be used using the same principle taught herein. Non-limiting examples of such other agents include, acetone and ethanol. Without being limited to a particular model, such agents stabilize the endogenous DNAses present in the pancreatic mixture. It shall be understood that the viscosity reducing agent should be chosen so as to not inhibit autolysis of the pancreatic paste.

Isopropanol is a favoured viscosity decreasing agent since it also acts as an antimicrobial agent. Notwithstanding, the above isopropanol shares this dual property with other agents. Non-limiting examples of such dual agents also include acetone and ethanol. It should be understood that the preferred embodiment described herein provides the advantage of enabling the autolysis, the antimicrobial treatment and the reduction of viscosity to be carried out in a single step. Nevertheless, it will be apparent to the skilled artisan that a separation of these steps could be carried out without departing from the spirit of the invention. The use of exogenous DNAses could also prove to be advantageous under certain conditions.

In this first step, the reduction of viscosity is an important element of the present invention since permits to the so obtained pancreatin mixture to be subjected to an ultrafiltration which could not be performed with a conventional pancreas mixture. In addition, by removing excess water from the pancreatic mixture. Such an ultrafiltration which also removes salts, proteolytic residues and the like, permits to obtain a pancreatin having a high enzymatic activity following a drying step.

The viscosity of the pancreatin mixture, as defined in centipoise units (mPa.s), also called CPS units, should preferably be in the range of from 5 to 8 CPS and most preferably from 5 to 6 CPS.

The pancreatin preparation should respect the standards for microbial contamination. Accordingly, use should be made of the antimicrobial agent in such an amount that following the autolysis step (or at a later stage, see below), the bacterial cell count as expressed in colony forming units should be preferably below approximately 500cfu/g, more preferably below approximately 200 cfu/g.

The temperature of the autolysis step is preferably between 10 and 250C, more preferably between 15 and 200C. Since the decontamination step using a solvent such as isopropanol needs to be carried out under hydrated conditions, a decontamination of the fat-containing pancreatin powder, following the drying of the retentate, would not be very efficient for large scale processes.

However, although less favored, the decontamination of the pancreatin could be performed following the ultrafiltration step rather than at the autolysis step.

The next step of the method according to the invention consists in concentrating the pancreatin mixture by subjecting it to an ultrafiltration.

In contradistinction to the conventional methods whereby the concentration step is carried out by precipitation (i.e. with organic solvents), the concentration step of the method according to the invention is carried out by ultrafiltration. As stated above, the role of the viscosity reducing agent used in the autolysis and decontamination step is important to permit an efficient ultrafiltration step. Without a viscosity reducing agent as taught herein, for example isopropanol added in a fed-batch manner, the pancreatic mixture is too viscous to be ultrafiltrated, due to the high undigested DNA content thereof.

Preferably the membrane cut-off is between 5,000 and 30,000 Da and more preferably between 10,000 and 20,000 Da. As will be understood by the skilled artisan, the cut-off of the ultrafiltration membranes will be adapted as a function of particular needs of time of filtration, acceptable losses of protein and the like.

The number of membranes should be chosen in order to enable the carrying of the ultrafiltration step under conditions which minimize protein denaturation, such as within about 3 hours and preferably in 1 to 2 hours.

Prior to the concentration step, the pancreatin mixture can be

subjected to an extraction step which comprises an incubation of the autolysed mixture with an enzymatic stabilizing agent in order to obtain a slurry, and then a centrifugation of this slurry to eliminate tissues and particles. This extraction step is distinguishable from the common extraction methods which utilize a mixture of water and organic solvent (30-70%). In accordance with the invention, the extraction is performed in a minimal amount of organic solvent(s), preferably 8-10% (v/v). Preferably, the organic solvent concentration that is chosen is not sufficient to provoke protein precipitation but yet to permit a reduction of the viscosity of the mixture to an adequate level of about 5 to 8 CPS.

In practice, an enzymatic stabilizing agent (enzyme stabilizer) is added to the mixture. With such stabilizing agent, the proteolytic, lipoiytic and amylolytic enzymes of the pancreas are stabilized. Although the stabilizing agent exemplifies thereinafter is starch, the invention should not be construed as being limited to starch, since other enzyme stabilizing agents are known to those skilled in the art to which the present invention pertains. Starch is nevertheless preferred as it protects the amylases which are more susceptible to degradation than lipases and proteases. Non-limiting examples of other enzyme stabilizing agents which could be used in accordance with the invention include sorbitol, glycerol, polyvinyl alcohol, bovine serum albumin, salts, and the like. The preferred embodiment described herein combines starch, sorbitol and salts.

The next step of the method according to the invention is a drying step which is preferably carried out by spray drying, although other drying procedures including, for examples, air drying, drying with solvent, and freeze drying, could also be used. Spray drying regularly retains 80% or more of the enzymatic activity initially present in the pancreas paste (80% or more of the enzymatic activity can be obtained). Performing the spray drying step without the removal of water by ultrafiltration yields a pancreatin having approximately 30% of its original enzymatic activity.

The spray-drying step is preferably carried out at an optimal inlet temperature of about 1 50-2250C, and an outlet temperature of about 60-800C.

Preferably, the inlet and outlet temperatures are of about 175-2000C and 65-750C, respectively, and more preferably, the inlet and outlet temperatures are of about 1850C, and 650C, respectively. The addition of an enzyme protecting agent such as starch to the retentate, prior to spray drying,. is important to maintain the activity of the pancreatic enzymes. Other non-limiting examples of enzyme protecting agents include Arabic gum, maltodextrins, gelatin and sugar.

The next step of the method according to the invention consists in defattening the concentrated pancreatin preparation obtained after the drying step.

Defattening agents are well known in the art and although hexane is preferred, other defattening agents including, for examples, ether, acetone, alcohol, trichloroethylene and dichloromethane could be used.

The defatting step is preferably carried out for 30 to 1 20 min but it can be increased to overnight without a significant loss in enzyme activity and yield of pancreatin. By defatting a dried concentrated fat-containing pancreatin preparation, the invention significantly minimizes the use of organic solvents. It shall be understood that a defatting following the ultrafiltration, but prior to the drying of the concentrate could also be performed, as it would still permit, albeit to a lesser extent, a reduction in the use of organic solvents.

If desired, following the defatting step, another drying step can be carried out by conventional methods such as air drying or under vacuum.

EXAMPLE 1 Production of a pancreatin preparation 109 kg of deep frozen hog's pancreas was partially thawed and chopped in a meat chopper. The resultant pancreas paste was mixed with 600 gr.

of CaC12 300 gr. of NaCI, and 10 liters of isopropanol at the onset of autolysis (t = 0 days). At day 2, an additional 1 5 liters of isopropanol was added (fed-batch procedure). The mixture was then incubated for a further 2 days at 200C.

The autolysed and decontaminated pancreatic paste was mixed with 216 liters of water, pH 5.5-7.0, containing 50mM of NaCI, 0.1% of Starch and 1 % of Sorbitol. The pancreatic slurry that was so obtained, was incubated in a 500 L container with gentle agitation for 3 hours, at a temperature of 15-200C.

The slurry was then centrifuged in order to remove the tissues and the particles to yield a pancreatic enzyme solution. The final concentration of isopropanol as provided by the autolysis step, was approximately 8% (v/v). Such a final concentration of isopropanol is insufficient to provoke protein precipitation and hence a loss of yield.

The supernatant thereby obtained (380 liters) was concentrated by ultrafiltration. Ultrafiltration was performed with an Alpha Lava'" ultrafiltration unit, at a 30 psi inlet pressure, a 20 psi outlet pressure, and at temperature of 15-200C. Six AmiconTM membranes were used for the ultrafiltration (10,000 Da cut-off). The membranes had a surface area of 25 ft2 each and the flow rate of permeate was 4 I/min. The ultrafiltration was completed in 60 min. and 110 liter of the retentate was recovered. Membranes having cut-offs of from 5 to 30 kDa could also have been used in accordance with the invention. At the lower limit of the above range (5 kDa), clogging and increased time of filtration is foreseen while at the higher limit (30 kDa), a certain loss of protein is expected prior to the formation of the polarization layer.

0.46% of soluble starch was then added to the retentate and spray-dried with a NiroTM spray-drier having a capacity of 60 kg. of water evaporation/hour. Using an inlet temperature of about 1800C, and an outlet temperature of about 600 C, 22 kg of concentrated pancreatin was obtained.

The concentrated pancreatin was mixed with 1.3-1.5 volume of hexane (25 liters) for 60 min at 15-20"C, and centrifuged with a basket centrifuge. The pancreatin concentrate was treated with dried air to remove residual traces of hexane and thus to give the requested pancreatin preparation.

The used hexane was then recovered by distillation.

The pancreatin thereby prepared showed the following profile:

Pancreatin yield: 16,5 kg Protease: 250-270 USP/mg Amylase: 300-320 USP/mg Lipase: 47-50 USP/mg Loss on drying: 1,5-3,0% % fat: 2-4% EXAMPLE 2 Role of isopropanol on the viscosity and microbial count of the pancreas solution during autolysis The pancreatic mixture at the concentration stage is very viscous as exemplified in Table 1. Such a high viscosity is flow conducive to ultrafiltration.

This viscosity can at least in part be explained by the presence of a high content of non-digested DNA in the pancreatic mixture.

The addition of isopropanol in fed-batch has proved to significantly reduce the viscosity of the pancreatic solution (see Table 1).

Without being limited to a particular model, this phenomenon could be explained by the direct DNAse activity which is intrinsic to the pancreas. The fed-batch procedure would permit a stabilization of the DNAse in 10% isopropanol thereby enabling digestion of pancreatic DNA. It would appear that starting at 15% isopropanol the DNAse activity would be less efficient as assessed by the viscosity of the pancreatic solution. The addition of an additional 15% of isopropanol (total of 25%) at day 2 permitted to obtain an adequate viscosity.

Table 1 Isopropanol day 1 day 2 day 3 concentration Viscosity in CPS 10%* 6,51 5,5 5,2 15%* 10,2 8,9 8,0 20%* 38,8 21,7 15,2 25%** 6,6 5,8 5,6 * Isopropanol was added at the onset of the autolysis step **Isopropanol was added in fed-batch: 10% at the onset and an additional 15% at day 2.

Moreover, the addition of isopropanol permitted a significant reduction in microbial counts (see Table 2).

Table 2 Isopropanol day 1 day 2 day 3 day 4 concentration CFU/g 10% 95000 31000 28000 44000 15% 20000 13000 13000 17000 20% 1600 900 720 610 25%"" 1200 750 400 120 **ln fed-batch as for table 1

The addition of isopropanol in fed-batch hereby permitted a DNA digestion in the initial stages of the autolysis step while the increased concentration thereof enabled a significant reduction of the microbial load.

It will be apparent that addition of exogenous DNAse under selected conditions could be contemplated.

EXAMPLE 3 Comparison of the organic solvent content of differently produced pancreatin preparations The pancreatin preparation product as described above in Example 1 (pancreatin 1) and a plurality of commercially available pancreatin preparations produced by conventional methods (pancreatins a-d) were analysed to compare their contents of residual organic solvents. The nature of the organic solvents used for the production of these commercial pancreatin preparations was determined by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy, according to conventional methods. Briefly, the remaining organic volatile impurities were measured using the headspace gas chromatograph method IV of #467 (United States Pharmacopoeia XXIII 1995).

As shown in Table 3, the pancreatin preparation of the invention contains a significantly lower amount of residual organic solvent. Such a pancreatin preparation having about 20 times less residual solvent as compared to pancreatins prepared according to conventional methods, has the advantage of diminishing health hazards associated with organic solvent exposure.

Table 3 Solvents Concentration 1 RA2 Pancreatin 1 Hexane 0,313 1,00 Pancreatin a Isopropanol 9,20 29,68 Pancreatin bl Isopropanol 4,96 16,00 Pancreatin b2 Isopropanol 10,50 33,87 Pancreatin c Isopropanol 7,96 25,68 Pancreatin d Acetone 2,30 7,42 Isopropanol 9,83 31,71 Pancreatin e Acetone 1,05 3,39 1 ppm x 103 (ug/g) 2 Relative amounts 3 Average of three experiments It is obvious that numerous modifications could be made to the method that has been disclosed in detail hereinabove without departing from the scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims.