The guinea pig, also known as the cavy, Cavia porcellus, is a little animal belonging to the Caviidae family. Its genome has 32 chromosomes containing 3,4 Gb with 20,000 protein-coding genes. This species was first domesticated as early as 5000 BC by tribes in the Andean region of South America and doesn’t exist in the wild any longer.
Before 1960, the guinea pig was the most used animal model in research laboratories. It has been used as experimental animals for centuries mostly in infectiology but also in many applications; hence the term 'guinea pig' for a human experimental subject.
Facing the lack of available tools, SYnAbs has recently developed secondary antibodies as rat monoclonal antibodies specifically recognizing light and heavy chain of guinea pigs antibodies.
Over the past 200 years, guinea pigs have proven to be a valuable animal model to study infectious diseases and are the model of choice for etiologic agents such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Legionella pneumophila, and Cytomegalovirus.
In September 2018, Professor Jonathan Heeney and colleagues at the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics, University of Cambridge, have developed and successfully tested a trivalent vaccine in guinea pigs that protects against Ebola, Lassa and Marburg viruses. As a result, Professor Heeney has been awarded a £2 million grant to take the vaccine to clinical trials in humans. The research has led to the formation of DIOSynVax, a spin-out company of Cambridge Enterprise.
In Oct 2018, Guinea pig antigen challenge and reactogenicity assessment has been realized for acute Q fever vaccine (infection with Coxiella burnetii or C. burnetii), since guinea pigs are an excellent small animal model for Q fever.
2019, January - Christine A.Bricaud team incorporated V2 signatures in a trivalent HIV-1 vaccine to enhance epitope exposure and to include common epitope variants, resulting in increased neutralization breadth against heterologous viruses in guinea pig.
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SYnAbs' vision is to fill the gap on the marketplace for innovative mAbs against poor immunogenic compounds and complex antigens. Targeting steroids, peptides, small molecules, toxins, lipids and polysaccharides (on fungi and bacteria), SYnAbs has developed a strong expertise in immunology to break immunotolerance in rat and guinea pig species to generate unique monoclonal antibodies of extreme specificity and higher affinity.
SYnAbs (https://www.synabs.be) was set up in September 2015 out of Professor Pierre Gianello’s experimental surgery laboratory (CHEX) in order to develop greater expertise in the custom production of monoclonal antibodies, of rats but also of guinea pigs.
The UCL spin-off was set up as a result of coordinated action by the laboratory, the Louvain Technology Transfer Office (LTTO), Wallonia Biotech Coaching and a French group, Biotech Investissement (which owns shares in RD Biotech, Diaclone and QVQ companies under the brand name mAbexpertshttps://www.mabexperts.com/en/ ).
SYnAbs is a CRO based on the innovative BioPark of Gosselies-Charleroi in Belgium, has currently 130 m2 of production laboratories and generates earnings of 1 million euro thanks to its diligent team.