While the underlying approach of combinatorial chemistry seems applicable to a wide range of fields outside the life sciences, combichem companies focused on producing compound libraries for drug discovery are likely to find it difficult to expand into fields such as materials science.

Symyx Technologies Inc., which is in the combinatorial materials science business, provided a reminder of the broader business opportunity for combichem last week when it expanded its deal with Bayer AG (Leverkusen, Germany) to develop catalysts for producing polymers (see B4).