Novoprotein officials say that they are flexible when it comes to the starting materials that clients bring to them. Some CROs can only start with certain materials or in a certain stage of production in order to guarantee a risk-free package, says Dr. Shao.
“We are willing to start at any point and with any materials,” she adds, such as a client’s own expression vectors or stable cell lines. Novoprotein customizes the production of each protein depending on its unique characteristics.
“We listen to the protein and read between the lines to what the protein is saying, and then we adjust protocols and strategies to make a successful product,” says Dr. Shao.
Novoprotein also specializes in isotope labeling of proteins with nitrogen (15N) and carbon (13C).
Uniform isotope labeling is a key tool for NMR studies of recombinant protein interactions with ligands of pharmaceutical interest. Isotope labeling is a tough technique because most labeled proteins are expressed in E. coli cells and must be grown in minimal media. This results in low protein yields.
The secret recipe at Novoprotein uses a fortified minimal media that allows cells to grow normally and produce higher yields of proteins. The method lowers the cost of making large amounts of uniformly labeled recombinant proteins, says Dr. Shao.
Novoprotein also focuses on making off-the-shelf protein products, according to company officials. Among the offerings in its catalog are cytokines, enzymes, and diagnostic and detection reagents.
A special line of Highlight products includes recombinant human complement factor B, a series of proneurotrophins, and human CD 47. These products are particularly challenging to make and express in their active forms, notes Dr. Shao. For example, pro-BDNF must form precise dimers to be active in bioassays, she explains.
The company continues to work on discovering and purifying new protein products. In its pipeline is Y136, a glycoprotein that neutralizes interferon type I and type III. “It’s a very powerful compound,” emphasizes Dr. Shao. Y136 was discovered by Sergei Kotenko, Ph.D., at the New Jersey Medical School, and Novoprotein scientists are helping to purify it.