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Zhang Yafei awarded as National 1000Talents Program Entrepreneur

time:03/29/2018 page views: resource:BioBAY

It is well-known that drugs need to be prescribed based on the specific symptoms. But this is neglected due to the fact that the effects of the drugs vary from person to person. Therefore, the precision medicine advocates “treating the same disease with different drugs and treating the different diseases with the same drugs”. 

Since its inception in BioBay in 2013, QIAGEN (Suzhou) Translational Medicine Co. Ltd.(QIAGEN Suzhou) has been committed to providing the complete precision medicine solution in the development and validation of biomarkers and companion diagnostics clinical trials. In addition to winning the title of SIP High-level Leading Talent and Jiangsu Province High-Level Entrepreneurial and Innovative Talents, Zhang Yafei, chairman of QIAGEN Suzhou, was recently awarded as the National 1000Talents Program Entrepreneur (14th Batch). 

High starting point and rapid development

The integration of biomarker content, detection platform as well as the upstream and downstream industry chain is to be completed. 

In the 1990s, after graduating from the University of Cincinnati in the United States with PhD in Bioanalysis, Zhang worked in Pfizer and Novartis among other well-known pharmaceutical enterprises for several years, engaging in the research of chemistry, preparation, analysis, production and control until 2017 when he went back to China. Later, he joined QIAGEN Suzhou to challenge himself.  Talking about his experience in QIAGEN Suzhou, with conviction he said, “I have not excelled in companion diagnosis. But I am sure companion diagnosis is a promising field in the wave of precision medical treatment, and it can provide direct guide for the treatment of patients. I hope companion diagnosis will achieve greater value in China through our efforts" 

QIAGEN Suzhou started off as a joint venture company. With the mature technical platform of its headquarter QIAGEN in Germany and the perfect service system of the BioBay, QIAGEN Suzhou had a high starting point for its development. At present, QIAGEN Suzhou has adopted market-oriented development strategy to complete the integration of contents, platforms and industry chains, including fluorescent quantitative PCR, the first generation of sequencing, pyrophosphoric sequencing, and the second generation of sequencing, ELISA, MSD and the pathological technology. It has realized the all-around coverage of biomarkers from DNA to RNA, to protein, aiming to provide a one-stop service for precision medicine. 

Unique business model

Companion diagnosis rapidly increases the R&D efficiency of new drugs  

"The first project in QIAGEN Suzhou came from the Gates Foundation. At that time, the Gates Foundation funded the development of POCT product for pulmonary tuberculosis detection. The POCT product is aimed to provide portable detection services for poor and remote areas. The second project was to work hand in hand with Sanofi, a multinational pharmaceutical company, to develop new biomarkers.”Zhang said. To date, QIAGEN Suzhou has expanded its services to many innovative drugs R&D and production multinational companies, large-sized domestic pharmaceutical companies, and small- and medium-sized biopharmaceutical innovation enterprises, hospitals, and schools.

Based on the companion diagnosis concept, it is necessary for QIAGEN Suzhou to cooperate with pharmaceutical enterprises. Zhang noted that QIAGEN Suzhou has to date worked with more than 50 pharmaceutical companies. In preclinical research, it is cooperating with pharmaceutical companies to validate biomarkers, signaling pathways and targets. In clinical trials, they jointly screen patients for drug clinical entry, and when the drug goes into the market, they work together to market its diagnostic products according to its clinical data. In short, the purposes of establishing full cooperation relationship with pharmaceutical enterprises are not only to improve the efficiency and success rate of the new drug discovery and cost reduction, but also to find the most suitable drug for patients. In China, this is a new win-win model for pharmaceutical and companion diagnostics companies.

Entering into the 2.0 era 

The value of precision medicine is truly realized

In Zhang’s office, there are several dozens of admission cards on biopharmaceutical forums and conferences. He said he was happy to share QIAGEN Suzhou’s development and his views on precision medicine. He believes that the win-win cooperation between pharmaceutical companies and companion diagnostics companies is the future trend, which will not only improve the whole industrial ecosystem, but also benefit more patients.

”Over the years, QIAGEN Suzhou has developed a synergistic effect in BioBay. Zhang said, “We have carried out in-depth cooperation with more than 10companies in BioBay, including a biological enzyme company which has been our partner since we conducted the first project.

Zhang has clearly set the next small target while receiving many honors. He said, "I think QIAGEN Suzhou has entered the 2.0 era. We will use the B round financing, as an opportunity to accelerate the expansion of our foreign businesses and the promising technical mergers and acquisitions, support domestic pharmaceutical companies to conduct clinical trials abroad, and promote the application of the digital pathology platform and artificial intelligence into the diagnostic field. Our goal is to help patients with early cancer detection and control in the next five to ten years in order to make patients find the right cancer medicine in the right time. The Professional Committee for Precision Medicine and Companion Diagnostics of Chinese Society of Biotechnology (CSBT) (Preparing) sponsored by QIAGEN Suzhou, AstraZeneca, CST, Wuxi PharmaTech, and Da’an Gene and set up in 2017 is a milestone to achieve the above goal.

Source: Suzhou Daily