A Visit to Extrasynthese

6/5/17

There is nothing quite like experiencing something in person to truly appreciate it. The short version is, I can confirm from personal experience that the Extrasynthese phytochemical reference standards we distribute are exceptional. But here’s the long version:

For two years it has been my pleasure to work for Alkemist Labs and with Extrasynthese as their North American distributor. This spring my colleague, Andrea Soler-My and I had the pleasure of visiting the Extrasynthese office and phytochemical standard production facility in Lyon France, to meet the people who make the reference standards we sell and watch them at their work. It was an extraordinary experience that I would like to share with our customers and colleagues.

To build brand awareness for Extrasynthese here in North America, Extrasynthese CEO Dr. Rene de Vaumas and I have attended nearly a dozen conferences and meetings together. We have settled into the pleasant travel rhythm of congenial colleagues but always on my turf. This was my first opportunity to go to them and experience the culture that informs the products they create, and meet the chemists responsible for research, production and order fulfillment of their phytochemical standards. After 10 years of working in this field, this was my first time to actually observe the full production process, from isolation to characterization of phytochemical standards, all under one roof. I was excited, to say the least!

Although I have been to France before, this was my first time in Lyon. Located 200 miles south east of Paris, Lyon is the third largest city in France and a major center of biotechnology research and innovation. Just as importantly, and even more pleasurably so, Lyon is well known for its cuisine. If a chemist can be compared to a chef, it seems the tradition of Lyonnaise gastronomy may carry over to the Extrasynthese laboratory, where their chemists create phytochemical recipes and creations.

The Extrasynthese facility was as impressive as I expected it to be. Rene enthusiastically instructed my colleague Andrea, an accountant with limited chemistry background, on the concepts of chromatographic separation and reference standard characterization. We were fortunate to be there for the production of a new batch of their famous anthocyanins, with the bright pink colors visually adding to Rene’s chromatography lessons. Although I have happily worked on the business side of chemistry for 20 years now, watching Rene demonstrate their processes left me feeling a bit winsome for my old days at the bench.

The Extrasynthese corporate culture has a warm, family feel. Children’s artwork decorates many of the office spaces and the staff takes their morning and afternoon breaks all together around the same table. Internal communication at Extrasynthese is done almost exclusively in person and internal emails are rare. Most employees have been with the company for the bulk of their professional careers, and the level of dedication they demonstrate was inspirational. The Extrasynthese staff is energized by their new vision to expand their phytochemical portfolio and innovate new production methods for top selling compounds.

Each batch of phytochemicals is a custom production lot most often undertaken from botanical biomass and including isolation and synthetic techniques as appropriate. Quality and care are taken in each step of the process from determining what new items are added to the catalog, which requires long term production and supply, to the packaging of each order done on an individual basis, which is performed by chemists, not just technicians. Custom orders are encouraged and bulk packaging is easily accommodated, as each vial is prepared specifically to order.

The pride their staff feels in their work is evident and it shows through to their reference materials catalog. In 2016, they have completed a full upgrade of their quantitative standard certificates of analysis to include inorganic content measurement, calculated assay, and improved formatting. In addition, they added several exciting compounds to their catalog including anthocyanins from macqui berry and a full line of tocopherols and tocotrienols. They are also well underway with the production of new cranberry reference standards expected to launch early in the fall.

Experiencing the Extrasynthese facility and spending time with their staff served to underscore the good match between Alkemist and Extrasynthese. I’m even more proud today to be representing their products.

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