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SynAbs, a growing CRO

April 24, 2019 |
SynAbs produces monoclonal antibodies for the markets of diagnostic tools and pharmaceutical research. Building on its growing success, the company is looking to expand its services, including by using a new genetic technology and developing immunology testing procedures.

Some 300 Contract Research Organisations (CROs) across the world specialise in antibodies. What sets SynAbs apart from the rest? ‘We produce the antibodies our clients need, using three species: mice, rats, and guinea pigs’, says CEO Didier Argentin. ‘This increases our chances of breaking any immune tolerance that one of the species may have developed.’ 'It also lets us produce antibodies that fight various types of molecules’, adds Julien Isoard, SynAbs’ head of business and marketing. ‘This includes molecules that are not supposed to trigger an immune response: hormones, small molecules, post-translational modifications (e.g. phosphorylation), etc.’

A new genetic technology
With a recently signed licensing agreement with Delphi Genetics, SynAbs will have one more technological resource at its disposal. ‘Instead of the full antigen, we will inject portions of its DNA or RNA’, explains Julien Isoard. ‘This lets us avoid the problem of toxicity when the antigen is a toxin or a drug.’
Once the lab animal has reacted to the antigen, its B lymphocytes are screened in order to isolate those that produce the target antibody. This specific antibody is then fused with a cell line that ‘immortalises’ the B lymphocyte. The material thus obtained can then be used for diagnostic or immunological testing.

From the ‘engine’ to the ‘car’
While producing antibodies remains SynAbs’ core activity, the company offers other services such as antibody humanisation, antibody sequencing, and so on. It also conducts ELISA immunological tests. ‘If antibodies are the engine, the immunological tests are the car!’ explains Didier Argentin. ‘Since we have both the expertise and the equipment required, we would like to increase our activity in this area.’

A success story
‘We have clients in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and many more’, continues the CEO. ‘We work with SMEs that manufacture diagnostic kits, as well as with large pharmaceutical firms’ research programmes.’
SynAbs was officially launched in 2015, after part of the CHEX research centre was bought from UCL. ‘We transferred the expertise, technology, and cell lines, and set up in Gosselies with the team’, remembers Didier Argentin. ‘The Biopark is the ideal environment for companies active in immunology!’ And SynAbs has found very beneficial collaborations that have helped its revenue grow by some 40% each year since its creation.

Candice Leblanc