CONTACT US   |  (864) 397-5101

South Carolina is at Forefront of Life Sciences Industry Trends

Life sci trends.

Precision medicine, increased use of artificial intelligence, and improving clinical trial participant diversity are emerging challenges and trends facing the pharmaceutical, biotech and medtech industries—and South Carolina companies are aggressively meeting these challenges in order to improve the outcomes of patient care and the overall health care system.

Functional Precision Medicine for Better Patient Outcomes

In oncology, precision medicine has become a prime driver in drug development. Drug makers want to develop medications that target the tumor environment and the various mutations driving those cancers. One South Carolina company leading the way in functional precision medicine is Greenville-based Kiyatec. A spinout of Clemson University, Kiyatec developed an industry-disrupting ex vivo (outside the body) 3D cell culture technology designed to precisely determine which existing cancer drugs will most effectively impact a patient. Cancer cells are extracted from a patient and used to create an in vivo-like (inside the body) tumor environment within a laboratory.

Kiyatec then tests multiple cancer drugs against those cells in order to determine which treatments yield the highest efficacy results. That information can then be used by physicians to guide the treatment regimen for a cancer patient.

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is also focused on precision medicine. MUSC launched the In Our DNA SC program, which will recruit 100,000 patients from diverse communities and screen them for genetic variants known to cause various diseases, including multiple forms of cancer. Genetic drivers for these diseases are often missed in current screenings. This will allow for proactive steps, such as increased screening and preventative procedures, to be taken in order to improve the health outcomes of study participants.

AI, Machine Learning Improving Treatment and Efficiency

Artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques have become increasingly popular in life sciences, used in multiple ways including drug development, improving efficiency of clinical trials and streamlining diagnoses and treatments.

The University of South Carolina Artificial Intelligence Institute aims to leverage the capabilities of the technology in public health and other industries. Clemson University and MUSC formed an AI-centered alliance aimed at biomedical research. MUSC is also assessing a health care-related AI program developed by Israel-based Quai.MD.

The technology platform highlights and tracks possible clinical and diagnostic pathways for patient care. Quai.MD’s technology is expected to make a significant impact on patient outcomes, physician productivity and billing efficiency. In addition to MUSC, Quai.MD is eyeing a potential partnership with the Mayo Clinic. The technology’s lead focus is for chest pain-related conditions treated in emergency rooms.

Increasing Clinical Trial Diversity to Improve Health for Underrepresented People

South Carolina’s life sciences community is also at the forefront of improving recruitment of diverse communities for clinical trials. Historically, minority populations have been underserved by the life sciences community during the drug development process. Black and Latino populations in the U.S. have a disproportionate burden for certain diseases but are frequently underrepresented in biomedical research.

A partnership between MUSC and The South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute takes a new approach to trial awareness. MUSC Health System patients will be informed if they fit the profile of ongoing clinical trials and offered an opportunity to participate. MUSC Health System operates medical facilities in underserved rural areas, which is expected to improve patient demographics for ongoing clinical trials.

Amy Curtis, a radiation oncologist and clinical researcher at Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute in Greenville, pointed to the growing diversity of enrollment in studies conducted at her Upstate facility, with increased enrollment from Black participants and people in rural communities. Improved participation will lead to improved treatments for diseases, she said.

In addition to improving clinical trial diversity, South Carolina has also taken a lead in improving workforce diversity in the life sciences. Multiple training programs across the state, including the SCbio Life Sciences Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Certificate Program, provide opportunities for a broad and diverse population. James Chappell, president and chief executive officer of SCbio, explained that a diverse workforce strengthens South Carolina’s position as a leading hub for life sciences. Companies looking to expand or relocate to the state will benefit from a rapidly growing and ready workforce, he said.

“The goal is to have South Carolina be seen as the gold standard for workforce diversity,” Chappell said.

These South Carolina life science insights are authored by life sciences writer @Alex Keown, and provided by Inspire Agency and SCbio.  

Join now to enjoy expanded member benefits!

Enjoy exclusive member content, special events, savings, networking and more

Tamia Sumpter

Tamia is a driven senior undergraduate Bioengineering student currently enrolled at Clemson University. With a strong foundation in her field, she has honed her skills through hands-on experience in research and development at Eli Lilly & Company. During her time in the ADME department, Tamia contributed significantly by working on siRNAs and their applications in finding In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation (IVIVC). Looking ahead, Tamia has set her sights on a promising career in law. She aspires to specialize in Intellectual Property Law, with a particular focus on serving as in-house counsel for leading medical device or pharmaceutical companies. Her enthusiasm for this role is palpable as she prepares to embark on her legal journey! She is also a proud member of the Omicron Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PEER Mentor for Clemson PEER/WiSE, and currently serves as the President of Clemson Bioengineering Organization (CBO). With her unique blend of scientific knowledge and legal interests, Tamia is poised to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare and life sciences industries.