Among today's rapidly growing fields of biological study are those focusing on neurotransmitters, hormones, and various immunological and pharmacological agents. Central in many of these investigations is the analysis of biologically active peptides--chains of amino acids ranging from as few as two to more than 50 acids.

Since these peptides can't be derived naturally in sufficient quantities--indeed, some cannot be naturally derived at all-- scientists increasingly are depending on synthetic development of peptides to meet their experimental needs.

While many researchers have access to automated peptide-synthesis technology in their own laboratories or in core support facilities at their institutions, many are finding substantial advantages in contracting out the precise and time-consuming task of building a peptide to order. Thus, the growing need for peptides has spawned a robust young industry composed of commercial firms specializing in the synthesis of these amino acid chains.

There are several virtues to using these...

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