Current Technical Capability
In the past, genomic and proteomic research in China was mainly conducted at the country's research institutions. The Chinese government realized the potential of these technologies early on and has provided financial support and favorable policies.
The current capabilities of Chinese companies pursuing genomic and proteomic research include the development of reagents for measuring molecular events such as intracellular pathways, cell signaling, and gene expression, and development of nucleic acid-based biochips that can be integrated into next-generation diagnostic products.
Some companies also provide service for DNA synthesis, pathway profiling of lead compounds, assay development, and high-content/-throughput screening. Their capabilities in proteomic research include protein expression, protein structural determination, molecular cloning for construction of monoclonal antibodies, and synthesis of gene vectors.
Using their skills and experience in genomics and proteomics, some companies also provide services for target identification and validation to help drug companies elucidate disease-causing mechanisms. A number of Chinese organizations also possess large-scale genetic databases resulting from genome/proteome sequencing. With their strong capability in bioinformatics, these organizations also provide custom service to outside companies.
At present the majority of China-based companies conducting genomic and proteomic research are focusing on the development of diagnostic products including testing reagents and kits for hospital and/or laboratory use. Most of the products are for in vitro use and were developed based on nucleic acid technologies.
A growing number of China-based companies also offer diagnostic testing services, including quantitative- and real-time PCR-based diagnostic assays.
So far we have not seen any evidence that Chinese biotech companies are capable of independently developing (including identification and validation) biomarkers to support clinical research. A number of them do, however, possess the ability to detect and analyze biomarkers.
This shortcoming is related to the industry's short service history. The majority of these Chinese biotech firms are still limited in service scope, capability, capacity, and experience compared with their counterparts in the developed countries. Currently, only a small number of them could be considered world-class players.