In this interview, News-Medical talks to Dr. Zhang Linlin, Technical Specialist at Sino Biological Europe, about their recombinant antibody services and more that they can provide within Europe.
Can you explain what services Sino Biological provides?
Sino Biological is dedicated to providing the scientific community with high-quality recombinant protein and antibody reagents to promote life science research and drug discovery. Sino Biological also provides solid CRO service for recombinant production of proteins and antibodies, as well as antibody development.
Sino Biological, Inc.
Video credit: Sino Biological
With more than 46,000 products sold by Sino Biological, what are the main product areas that the company focuses on?
Sino Biological provides a broad range of recombinant protein and antibody products supporting R&D in fields of drug targets, cytokines and receptors, biomarkers, viral proteins and Fc receptors. We have independently developed more than 1500 drug target proteins with high purity and activity.
With more than 1000 proteins of cytokine and receptor category, all the cytokine families from more than 12 organism sources are covered. Sino Biological is the biggest supplier for bio-actively validated Fc receptors from different species. We also have a full collection of the viral protein bank. In addition, Sino Biological has produced more than 12,000 monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies against various antigens described above for the research fields of immunology, oncology and infectious disease, etc.
What are the most “cutting-edge” products currently offered by Sino Biological?
Firstly, our independently developed ProVir™ virus research reagents are a group of “cutting-edge” products widely used worldwide in infectious disease research, therapeutic antibody evaluation, immunodiagnostic assay and vaccine development.
The ProVir™ bank features an exclusive coronavirus catalog, a comprehensive collection of influenza antigens and many other hard-to-find viral proteins such as Zika, RSV, Ebola and Cytomegalovirus, etc. It includes over 1,000 antigens from 90 virus types/subtypes and 350 strains. In particular, the recombinant spike protein of the wild type of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron variant were first launched by Sino Biological; our Sinommune™ chip is a multiplex assay platform for high-throughput serological studies containing many upper respiratory virus antigens.
Secondly, the rabbit monoclonal antibodies developed using our phage display and single B cell platforms exhibit higher sensitivity and specificity than mouse monoclonal antibodies. Only a reduced number of antigen-retrieval pretreatments are needed in some applications. In addition, rabbit mAb can recognize more novel epitopes in a highly diverse suite of B-lymphocytes, which is quite useful for antigens with weak immunogenicity or derived from rodents.
Sino Biological also has the experience of producing antibodies in different shapes and formats, including bispecific, trispecific, multivalent antibodies, VHH antibodies, antibody fragments and antibody fusion proteins, etc.
Can you describe the process behind Sino Biological’s custom protein production services?
Sino Biological’s only official daughter company is in Germany – Sino Biological Europe GmbH. It has a mature local sales and customer service team. Once a CRO inquiry from a client was received by our sales, a prompt analysis of the project will be performed jointly by our technical specialist in Europe and the professional CRO team in the headquarter to ensure the client receive timely feedback.
After in-depth communication with the client, our solid internal infrastructure will clarify the specifics of the deliverables. As long as the project assessment process finishes, a standard service package for the non-complicated cases will be offered. A nonstandard service package can also be provided for a more complicated case. Upon receiving the confirmation from the client, we will then initiate the project, and then finally deliver high-quality product(s).
What advantages does this process confer to the customers?
Our clients will economically benefit from the workflow of processing the cases into standard or non-standard packages. During the progress of the project, the clients will be notified of the initiation and each milestone of the projects, enabling our clients to have a better design and preparation of the follow-up experiments and to keep an overview of the entire development process.
Suppose there is a problem during the production process. In that case, we will immediately discuss the problem with the client and try to find a solution. A complete project report and a certificate of analysis will be provided during the shipment process of the final products. A long-term cooperative relationship is feasible once our customers have established their trust in our first service.
Can you explain how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way Sino Biological operates?
Sino Biological has been a frontier worker with rapid responses against the public health crises, such as COVID-19. Being the first company in the world to express SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and its variants, our products are well accepted and distributed globally.
It is true that the COVID-19 pandemic challenges our work and lifestyle, but we do have previous experiences that have helped us. When COVID-19 first hit, a major part of our R&D and production capacity was quickly switched to develop and produce SARS-CoV-2 related reagents to support the industrial and academic R&D community’s efforts for stopping the pandemic.
Due to this, a long-term and trustworthy collaboration has been established with many vaccines and rapid test developers. Meanwhile, a flexible infrastructure was also maintained to enable us to continuously provide non-COVID-19 products and services, and to prepare us for switching back to normal production right after the pandemic finishes.
What are the industry’s challenges in a post-COVID world, and how is Sino Biological overcoming them?
In the post-COVID-19 world, more and more companies are paying attention to the importance of developing related biological reagents, and more companies may even expand their business into this field. This will certainly intensify the competition.
After 14 years of growth, Sino Biological is an already well-established technology platform with experienced people, and this helps us contribute to all related research and production. In the follow-up development, an increase of production capacity and expansion of product range in the infectious diseases are the factors to be considered.
Do you believe that the intense focus on COVID has seen the development of products for the treatment of other conditions be neglected?
This point has been extensively discussed previously. At the earlier stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, many pharmaceutical companies engaged in COVID-19 research, and a considerable number of research funds were also invested in it. These efforts indeed play an important role in the global campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic. We also believe that the pharmaceutical companies and the research funding organizations could make a good balance between emergency and routine investments.
How has Sino Biological ensured this doesn’t happen without spreading its assets too thin?
As mentioned above, our former experience enables us able to keep a good balance between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related R&D and production. In addition, Sino Biological was also listed on the stock market and collected nearly 700 million USD. This will allow us to expand even further in both fields.
Sino Biological is expanding into Europe. How does this market differ from the areas in which the company is more established globally?
Essentially, the services and products we offer in the European market are the same as in other markets globally, but the European market is uniquely characterized by multiple cultures and nations. Factors including logistics, custom, currency, etc., will also have to be taken into consideration.
What local services does Sino Biological offer in Europe, and do these differ from its services elsewhere in the world?
As described in previous questions, we have our local sales and service team, together with a protein inventory in the European subsidiary in Germany. The basic principles for the services and products we offered are the same as elsewhere in the world. These include the same product range and quality control criteria.
Nevertheless, as mentioned previously, the European market does have some differences compared to one-national markets and we are well prepared for it. Products are delivered directly from Germany to our clients, saving them a lot of effort during the importing procedure. Here we’ll have to deal with product export (to Switzerland and UK), prices of different currencies (EUR, GBP, CHF and SEK) and sometimes different languages.
Why was/is this the time right to expand into Europe?
Sino Biological has served its clients in Europe via our distribution network for many years. With the growth of our business, we started our Europe branch right before the COVID-19 pandemic began. After two and half years of development, our local team has matured, and the Sino Biological brand is known and accepted by more people. We have had more opportunities to provide support to them, and it’s indeed the right time for us to expand, albeit cautiously. Our IPO will certainly give us stronger capabilities and more resources to do so.
What are some of the challenges that this kind of expansion presents, and how are these being overcome?
Although we have served many customers in the past years, we are still quite young in the European market compared to the internationally well-established brands. First of all, we must provide the best quality of products and services, to build up basic trust from more clients. In the meantime, we will make a huge effort to inform more people about the Sino Biological brand, our team and what we can do. This includes promotions, sponsoring conferences and networking events, organizing webinars, customer visits (when the pandemic is gone) and so on.
About Dr. Zhang
Dr. Zhang is a technical specialist at Sino Biological Europe. Dr. Zhang worked as a project leader in the University of Lübeck before she joined Sino Biological Europe. Her research interests fall into the fields of protein structural biology, antiviral therapy, and virus-host interaction mechanisms. Dr. Zhang determined the crystal structure of the unliganded main protease of SARS-CoV-2, as well as its complex with an alpha-ketoamide peptidomimetic compound named 13b (Zhang et al., Science, 368, 409-412(2020)).
About Sino Biological Inc.
Sino Biological is an international reagent supplier and service provider. The company specializes in recombinant protein production and antibody development. All of Sino Biological’s products are independently developed and produced, including recombinant proteins, antibodies and cDNA clones. Sino Biological is the researchers’ one-stop technical services shop for the advanced technology platforms they need to make advancements. In addition, Sino Biological offers pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms pre-clinical production technology services for hundreds of monoclonal antibody drug candidates.
Sino Biological’s core business
Sino Biological is committed to providing high-quality recombinant protein and antibody reagents and to being a one-stop technical services shop for life science researchers around the world. All of our products are independently developed and produced. In addition, we offer pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms pre-clinical production technology services for hundreds of monoclonal antibody drug candidates. Our product quality control indicators meet rigorous requirements for clinical use samples. It takes only a few weeks for us to produce 1 to 30 grams of purified monoclonal antibody from gene sequencing.