SynAbs, from UCL benches to Singapore


November 24, 2017 12:00 AM,

Guy Dellicour, L’echo


The innovative products of the young start-up will be distributed in Singapore, booming biotechnology hub in Asia. Two years after its creation, SynAbs has already doubled its turnover and already achieved financial balance.


For scientists, Gosselies is not known only for its airport but especially for its many innovative companies in biotechnology. Among these, SynAbs has specialized itself in the manufacturing, for its customers, of custom monoclonal antibodies, or on the basis of a catalog of more than 1,000 references. It is the only private company of this type in Belgium and the world market is shared between 300 actors.


Put its bet on the guinea pig species


Antibodies are widely used as diagnostic tools for allergies, for pregnancy tests, in diabetes screening or in development for Parkinson's or Alzheimer's diseases. They are also increasingly used as therapeutic solutions, especially in immunotherapy.


Traditional antibody production techniques for R&D and In Vitro Diagnostic applications have been increased to more than 70% by the mouse. However, this platform does not always make it possible to obtain an effective product against certain toxins, which remain imperceptible by the immune system of these animals.


To overcome these intrinsic limitations, SynAbs has developed a unique technique for producing antibodies from rats and guinea pigs, genetically further distant from humans. Unlike insulin in mice, rats and rabbits, which is identical to human insulin, guinea pig insulin is unique.


A billion-dollar market


The potential for the development of an antibody against the different glycemic hormones involved in diabetes (a huge market) is even higher. "This animal is finally an optimum in terms of cost-effectiveness and space utilization," says Didier Argentin, "Our expertise in monoclonal antibodies to rats and guinea pigs is almost unique in the world. We have worked on this during more than an entire year', he confesses with delight.

The market for monoclonal antibodies in R&D and IVD is estimated as $ 1 billion.


"Our goal is to capture half of the rabbit monoclonal antibody market, with an annual turnover of around €50 million, which will require new organization and financial means."


SynAbs can certainly count for its future development on its French shareholder Biotech Investissement (which holds a 75% stake) as well as other public and private financial investors.


The company currently employs 7 senior scientific collaborators and is expected to exceed a turnover of 700,000 euros in 2017 (doubled in 2 years), of whose more than 50% is generated on the international scene.


In association with Coris Bioconcept, SynAbs has just won the Walloon project dedicated to the specific detection of bacteria resistance to antibiotics, with more than 1.5 million euros. Its presence abroad has also recently been strengthened by the signing of a distribution agreement in Singapore, the Asian biotechnology hub. Growth is just beginning.