Life sciences have developed a great deal in the last few decades. It’s because of these developments that we can alter proteins and use results for therapeutic, industrial, and research purposes. Specifically in the field of biotech, protein expressions have enabled pharmaceutical companies and research organizations to find solutions to many problems considered impossible a few years ago.
The first recombinant expression in Escherichia coli took place in 1976, and this process has been improving since then. It’s now a lot more efficient and faster and doesn’t require as many resources as before. Its importance was recognized even back then, and almost all biotech and pharma organizations need to perform protein expression in almost all their projects.
Many organizations have been doing this with an in-house team, but now there are specific companies that provide protein expression and purification service. As it is their specialty, they usually have better resources and can do the same job with more accurate results.
At least, this is what most organizations expect when they outsource this task.
If you are paying someone to do something for you, they need to have more resources and expertise than you. It’s a waste of money and time otherwise. Your own investments and efforts could be compromised if their results are inaccurate.
This is why it’s important to do some research before choosing a protein expression services provider. Here we have discussed a few tips to help ensure you don’t make any mistakes in this process.
They Should Use Multiple Host System
Look for a company that has experience with all important microorganisms, including Hansenula Polymorpha, Myceliophthora Thermophile, and Lactobacillus Lactis.
Professionals always ensure that their client is fully aware of their practices, which is why many of them provide a PowerPoint presentation about their host systems for protein expression.
If you have worked with proteins, you might have read somewhere that it’s not efficient to use a single system for all types of proteins. Your service provider should be able to work with your specific microbial strains and, if possible, provide a case study of previous experience.
They Should Have Protein Expression Systems
Be sure to ask them about the protein expression systems they use. They should have five major non-proprietary systems.
- E. Coli
- Bacillus Subtilis
- Saccharomyces Cerevisiae
- Pichia Pastoris
- Trichoderma Reesei
These systems cover most intracellular and secreted proteins. Whether you develop the protein of interest yourself with their help or fully rely on them to develop it for you, it’s important that they have all the right resources before they can move to the selection phase.
Ask About Their Development Program
With the resources, one also needs to have the right expertise to properly utilize them. With all the protein expression systems and hosts, they also need an efficient strategy for selecting and developing a platform.
As each system has its strengths and weaknesses, a professional should know how they can get the most accurate results. A good company would have a phased development program to select microbial hosts to produce the right intracellular or secreted protein.
To ensure the protein expression platform meets all your present and future needs, they should:
- Start with a feasibility study to evaluate generated strains in shake flask culture.
- Select the best candidate from shake flask and 1-L fermentor cultures.
- Optimize the process and prepare a technology transfer package.
Are They Affordable
Anyone can do a good job if they get extra money and time. What separates a professional from the rest is the ability to make the best of the least.
While you should not go for the cheapest option, make sure you are overpaying for the service you are getting. Some charge more because of better equipment and senior workforce. Take a quote from more than one service provider and always ask why they charge so high or so low.
Even if we want the best quality, price is always an important factor to consider. Whether you are a non-profit organization or a multinational company, you will always have a limited budget. To ensure every penny is invested in the right place, take time to have a meeting with all protein expression services providers.
If you are having second doubts, trust them. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
Check for Online Reviews
Online reviews tell a lot about the services of a professional. As there are not hundreds of thousands of people that need protein expression service, you won’t find a lot of reviews.
Many companies share the reviews of their clients on their websites, but they could be easily faked. You should check the background of the person or the company giving the review to test its authenticity.
Another way to find reliable reviews is through peers. Ask other people working in the same industry as you who might have needed protein expression service. People who have worked with them can give the most authentic and experience-based review of what to expect.
Ask About Their Experience
No matter how competent and smart the leader is, you will see a difference in their work if they lack experience. You learn things not found in textbooks through experience.
If a firm is just getting started, it might have a shortage of resources such as equipment and a skilled workforce. With a limited budget, there could be a limit to the quality of service they can offer. The leader might be a very skilled and experienced person, but he won’t be the one doing the work himself.
You should be more concerned about the team that performs the actual operations and the equipment they will use.
A company that has been providing service for several years would be up to date with the trends and would have already made a lot of mistakes and learned from them.
An inexperienced professional will learn from mistakes but at your expense. Don’t shy away from asking about their teams and achievements as it is your right and their duty. If they get offended by that, they aren’t worth working with.