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business of life sciences

  • sam patrick posted an article
    South Carolina featured in JD Supra article see more

    South Carolina has long been known for its colorful history, beautiful beaches and vibrant tourist industry.  In recent decades, it has also come to be well known for its high-tech manufacturing with the likes of BMW, Boeing, Honda, Michelin, Samsung and Volvo, all locating large manufacturing facilities throughout the State. What you might not know is that South Carolina is also home to another rapidly growing high-tech industry—the Life Sciences industry.

    The term Life Sciences is generally used to include companies in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, food processing, environmental, and biomedical devices. The Life Sciences industry also includes organizations and institutions that devote the majority of their efforts in the various stages of research, development, technology transfer and commercialization, as well as the companies who support these entities.

    According to SCBIO, the trade association which represents the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina, there are over 700 companies and businesses actively engaged in the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina and at least one Life Sciences organization is located in 42 of the State’s 46 counties. The economic impact of the Life Sciences industry is approaching $12 billion per year and is continuing to increase, according to a recent study. It is also estimated that the Life Sciences industry has created over 40,000 high paying jobs in South Carolina over the last several years, with an average annual salary of over $70,000.

    The Life Sciences industry in South Carolina is very diverse.  It includes companies ranging from small startups focusing on developing new technology like Okra Medical, to a unique genetic clinical and research institution like Greenwood Genetic Center, which has been serving the State for decades, to large established companies like Nephron Pharmaceuticals. Nephron is a pharmaceutical manufacturer and cGMP compliant 503(B) Outsourcing facility, and a global leader in the manufacture of generic respiratory medication that has rapidly expanded its manufacturing capacity and services over the last seven years. Nephron is owned and led by Lou Kennedy, whose vision and leadership have spurred the Company’s growth and success and have also made her one of the State’s most important business leaders, as well as an important thought leader in the Life Sciences industry.

    South Carolina is a pro-business state that has worked diligently to attract large companies looking for a friendlier business climate from a tax and regulatory perspective. An additional driver for the growth of the Life Sciences industry is the existing ecosystem for Life Sciences, which is supported by the State’s three major research universities: University of South Carolina, Medical University of South Carolina and Clemson University as well as over ten additional universities and colleges in the State - from Furman University with its innovation program and nationally recognized chemistry department, to Newberry College launching new curriculum and a degree focused on pharmaceutical manufacturing. These universities and colleges further validate the increasing depth of the existing ecosystem and the positive impact it will have on strengthening the talent pool available to the Life Sciences industry. Other factors contributing towards this growth are the efforts of the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Research Authority, the strong system of hospitals and health care systems within the State, the support of various economic development alliances, the State’s expanding technical college system, the support of elected officials and the growth and leadership of SCBIO over the last several years.

    SCBIO has spearheaded a series of joint private / public initiatives to promote the growth of the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina. These efforts include promoting statewide economic development strategies to attract Life Sciences companies to locate or relocate in South Carolina and consistently promoting and strengthening the existing ecosystem which allows established South Carolina Life Sciences organizations to collaborate, grow and flourish. In addition to its economic development efforts, SCBIO has integrated its efforts with the broader mission to transform and positively impact healthcare as evidenced by its unique alliances forged with the South Carolina Hospital Association, several large health systems and large payers like Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina.  For the past four years, SCBIO has been led by its CEO, Sam Konduros. Konduros has experience with economic development, operations of Life Sciences companies, developing start-up companies and most importantly—developing and implementing an ambitious strategic plan for the Life Sciences industry. During his time at SCBIO, Konduros has assembled a talented team.  His vision and energy have fueled a rapid growth in membership and engagement and an increased in awareness and support for the Life Sciences industry across the State. Under his leadership, SCBIO significantly expanded its membership and quadrupled its revenues, while at the same time establishing itself as a powerful force for economic development and creating a new platform for Life Sciences companies to collaborate on innovations and research. Earlier this month, Konduros announced his departure from SCBIO to serve on the Board of Vikor Scientific, another successful company within the Life Sciences space in South Carolina that is rapidly expanding. He will also serve as CEO of a new health innovation company powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies focusing on science personalized medicine strategies that will be a part of Vikor Scientific’s expanding portfolio of companies. SCBIO is conducting a national search for Konduros’ replacement and there is no doubt that the association and its members will continue to benefit from the momentum created over the last four years as it continues to push the Life Sciences industry forward.

    The global COVID-19 pandemic presented a profound challenge to the Life Sciences industry as it disrupted the way business was conducted. The Life Sciences industry in South Carolina stepped up to these challenges and turned them into opportunities. Many Life Sciences companies pivoted from their existing strategic plans to address the needs of the State and Nation by providing assistance in key areas that became critical during the pandemic. Companies like Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Vikor Scientific, KIYATEC, Premier Medical Lab Services and others offered much needed expanded COVID-19 testing services inside and outside South Carolina. Others such as ZVerse, a digital manufacturing company, modified its business model to become one of the largest producers of reusable face shields for use during the pandemic and beyond. Over the last 12 months, they have produced millions of these reusable facemasks and have been recognized throughout the country for their efforts. Rhythmlink International, a medical device leader, donated thousands of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals and other healthcare providers across South Carolina.  In addition, Milliken & Company boosted its production of biosmart fabrics used in scrubs and lab coats, which uses chlorine bleach-activated technology and molecular engineering to kill up to 99.9% of the bacteria and viruses it touches. Headquartered in Greenville, Vitalink Research was selected by Moderna to run its Phase III vaccine clinical trial, demonstrating national confidence in Life Sciences research operations in South Carolina. These are just a few examples of how South Carolina Life Sciences companies responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight why the Life Sciences industry is one of the fastest growing segments of South Carolina’s economy.

    The future of the Life Sciences industry is bright in South Carolina.  South Carolina has become an attractive place to develop and expand Life Sciences companies and there is great leadership within these companies. The rapid growth of Life Sciences is becoming more apparent to the public and media. In February 2021, Governor McMaster proclaimed February 15-19 as South Carolina Life Sciences Week in the Palmetto State.  Our Life Sciences companies are leading the discussions of how to bring more Life Sciences manufacturing back to the U.S, including to South Carolina, and how to develop a domestic source of PPE and other parts of the supply chain. There is also increased collaboration on leveraging increased use of technology like telehealth and digital health to deliver health care services to rural and less developed areas using technology developed and perfected in South Carolina. SCBIO is also leading an effort to expand and improve the workforce to support Life Sciences companies.  All signs point to a very bright future for the Life Sciences industry and South Carolina is just beginning to see the benefits of this growth and development.

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  • sam patrick posted an article
    Former SCBIO exec Sam Konduros to lead KOR Medical see more

    Former SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros named President and Chief Executive Officer

    of new Vikor Scientific health innovation company

     

    CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – May 4, 2021 – Continuing its rapid expansion as one of South Carolina’s fastest growing life sciences and healthcare firms, Charleston-headquartered Vikor Scientific announced that it is launching health innovation company KOR Medical “to set a new industry standard in the arena of personalized clinical cannabis to benefit patients afflicted with diseases ranging from epilepsy to cancer, and to help alleviate the nation’s opioid addiction crisis.” 

    According to KOR Medical Managing Partners and Vikor Scientific Co-Founders Scotty Branch and Shea Harrelson, the company is exploring locations nationwide for its initial state-of-the-art, multi-million-dollar operation.  

    “KOR Medical will be a highly innovative organization that will bring a new blueprint and novel value proposition to the national clinical cannabis marketplace, powered by an AI and blockchain supported seed to sale platform,” said Mr. Branch.  “Coupled with a relentless commitment to personalized medicine and rigorous compliance and purity, KOR will focus on providing clinicians with the tools and data they need to support leading-edge treatment protocols for the needs of each unique patient.”

    In addition to former South Carolina Biotechnology Industry Organization (SCBIO) chief executive Sam Konduros, a seasoned business leader and attorney who will serve as president and CEO, KOR Medical is also onboarding four senior executives that bring multi-disciplinary expertise and experience in the clinical cannabis industry – including Joseph Strauss, who will serve as COO and executive vice president.  Mr. Strauss brings more than a decade of immersive experience in the industry across multiple states to KOR, including Oregon, California, Colorado, and Florida.  Other corporate appointees championing sales and marketing, cultivation and innovation, and government and legal affairs will be announced in early Summer. 

    “Mr. Konduros will lead all aspects of the company’s business and serve on the board of directors of both KOR Medical and Vikor Scientific to provide insights regarding the strategic direction of our portfolio of companies as we expand in the US and globally,” said Mr. Branch.  “Sam is the epitome of a world class CEO.  We look forward to watching him execute our mission with the support of an extraordinary executive team who will enable KOR Medical to achieve its vision to help transform healthcare.” 

    Armed with a comprehensive business plan and finalization of its laboratory-grade indoor growing facility design, KOR Medical is currently forging key industry and business partnerships with numerous entities with established track records in the cannabis industry.  KOR Medical expects to confirm its initial US location of operations by mid-Summer 2021, with the site becoming a model for future expansion across the nation.  KOR is planning its initial product launch during 2021, followed by full-scale production in 2022. 

    Visit KOR Medical at www.kormedical.com and Vikor Scientific at www.VikorScientific.com.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Trio collaborate to turn back COVID tides see more

    It was not long ago when we all witnessed demand for critical Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) far outstripping supply on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle.

    While this story line is now receding in our memory, it became a rare instance in South Carolina based on extraordinary efforts from entities like Humimic Medical, South Carolina Biotechnology Organization (SCBIO), and South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP).  Not only did these groups address frontline workers, but they also addressed the critical PPE needs of organizations a few layers back from the front lines – such as non-profit community outreach groups, church programs, and workforce development groups.

    Humimic Medical teamed up with SCBIO and SCMEP to help these organizations and others out. Leveraging the broad network of SCBIO and connected distribution channels of SCMEP, Humimic Medical donated thousands of face shields to organizations across South Carolina which desperately needed quality, made-in-the-USA protective equipment.

    “Helping the ‘little guys’ has always been part of my DNA, I guess,” commented Joel Edwards, CEO of Greenville’s Humimic Medical. “We started in a garage 10 years ago and grew from there. Organizations willing to support the little guy like us along the way helped us tremendously in getting to where we are today. So having the opportunity to give back and help others who may not be first in line to receive PPE supplies just felt right.”

    Humimic Medical does not typically produce PPE. However, as they continued to become more deeply entrenched in the collaborative life science ecosystem network that SCBIO has forged in the Palmetto State (which includes groups like SCMEP), they realized they could join the fight against COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, Humimic Medical shifted some of its engineering and manufacturing resources from their medical trainer product lines to help supply PPE where it was needed most.

    There was one problem though. Humimic Medical didn’t have the established distribution channels for PPE in South Carolina. That’s where SCBIO’s connection to SCMEP came into play. Organizations like SCMEP also serve as key players in South Carolina’s connected, collaborative, and growth-oriented network. SCMEP’s mission of helping state organizations improve their competitiveness, performance, and profitability provided a perfect backdrop for Humimic Medical to connect to organizations around our state who still desperately needed PPE supplies like face shields.

    “SCMEP always prides itself in being a strategic resource for companies in our State”, shared Chuck Spangler, President of SCMEP. “We’re grateful we could leverage our network in collaboration with SCBIO and Humimic Medical to serve organizations in need.”

    Added SCBIO Interim CEO Erin Ford, whose team was able to rapidly connect Humimic with key contacts to deliver the new face shields where they are needed most, “We continue to live our mission of being the life sciences industry convener, and that’s more important than ever right now.”

    “Organizations SCBIO and SCMEP continue to be invaluable assets in our State,” said Edwards.  “The rich, collaborative networks these kind of groups create are what will continue to make South Carolina a leader in new business development.”

     

    About Humimic Medical:  

    Humimic Medical is a rapidly growing medical trainer and synthetic gel manufacturing company based in Greenville, SC. The company is driven by innovative product design, world-class customer service, and fueled by robust collaborative partnerships with universities and healthcare providers. Humimic Medical utilizes its proprietary synthetic gel blend to more closely represent human tissue elasticity and maintain recyclable/reusable qualities that no other product line currently offers delivered at a significantly lower price point than any existing products.

    About SCMEP:

    SCMEP is a private, non-profit group that serves as a proven resource to South Carolina businesses, providing them with a range of innovative strategies and solutions. An affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), SCMEP operates under the US Department of Commerce to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness. SCMEP uses a strategic, hands-on, partnering approach to help South Carolina companies improve their competitiveness, performance, and profitability in today’s increasingly demanding global economy.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Predictive platform expansion into immunotherapy testing a boon for pharma see more

    KIYATEC, Inc. today announced that research published in the March 2021 Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy journal solidifies the foundation to characterize predictive accuracy in immune-oncology. By using a patient’s own tumor cells and infiltrating immune cells to model patient-specific biological complexity, KIYATEC’s platform achieves a fundamental requirement bridging drug discovery through post-approval clinical use. The future ability to accurately predict which patients respond to immunotherapy agents, prior to treatment, will spare non-responders from financial toxicity and drug-induced side effects.

    Immune checkpoint inhibitors that target programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) have only shown modest activity as monotherapies for the treatment of ovarian cancer. Approval for a patient’s use of these immunotherapies is based on the current paradigm of cancer drug selection, spanning genetic sequencing, gene expression and biomarkers. For many checkpoint inhibitor indications, only 10-30% of patients treated with these premium-cost drugs respond. The importance of checkpoint inhibitors meeting key clinical endpoints has recently been brought into focus in more than one cancer indication.

    Tessa DesRochers, PhD, KIYATEC Chief Scientific Officer said, “Our research highlights the significant steps that we have defined and those we have met to ultimately validate immune-oncology response prediction. While clinical prediction is still in progress pharmaceutical companies can today utilize our technology to make meaningful decisions during their drug development process.”

    The company has defined the four critical steps necessary to successfully predict immunotherapy response in the clinic. The latest research from KIYATEC demonstrates achievement of the first three: 1) development of a live cell co-culture test with patient-matched cells, 2) demonstration of sustained functionality of key infiltrating immune cells, and 3) characterization of dose-dependent and patient-specific cellular responses to immunotherapies. These three steps deliver what drug developers need today, strengthening KIYATEC’s basis for high value-added preclinical services. The fourth step will be to correlate the test results with patient immunotherapy endpoints in the clinic, enabling the prediction of patient-specific response to immunotherapies prior to treatment.

    KIYATEC’s platform is already predictive for chemotherapy and targeted agents. In December 2020, the company announced that unblinded use of KIYATEC’s test results to inform drug selection for recurrent brain cancer patients approximately doubled the expected clinical outcome. An earlier blinded clinical study, published in 2019, demonstrated that progression-free survival doubled for newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients if they had received a drug treatment to which KIYATEC’s test results had predicted a response.

    “We are optimistic about the growing need for more effective pairing of immunotherapies and patients, particularly given recent developments in this multi-billion-dollar market,” said Matthew Gevaert, PhD, CEO and Founder of KIYATEC. “The expansion of our predictive platform beyond chemotherapy and targeted agents has the potential to change how patients are selected for life-saving treatments.”

    Appleton, K.M., Elrod, A.K., Lassahn, K.A. et al. PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors in combination with olaparib display antitumor activity in ovarian cancer patient-derived three-dimensional spheroid cultures. Cancer Immunol Immunother 70, 843–856 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00262-021-02849-z

     

    About KIYATEC

    KIYATEC leverages its proprietary ex vivo 3D cell culture platforms to accurately model and predict response to approved and investigational cancer drugs targeting a spectrum of solid tumors. The platforms are positioned to address the gap-defining limitations of current cancer drug selection. The company’s Clinical Services business is currently engaged in the validation of clinical assays as well as investigator-initiated studies in ovarian cancer, breast cancer, glioblastoma and rare tumors, in its CLIA-certified laboratory. The company’s Drug Development Services business works in partnership with leading biopharmaceutical companies to unlock response dynamics for their investigational drug candidates across the majority of solid tumor types.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    SCBIO, United Community Bank to sponsor development program see more

    Furman University’s Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) will be presented virtually this year with two statewide community partners supporting the effort. United Community Bank will be the program’s presenting sponsor and SCBIO has signed on to be a presenting partner.

    The WLI is a seven-week leadership development program open to emerging and established women leaders in South Carolina, with past participants from every corner and many industries of the Palmetto State. It is led by distinguished Furman faculty and expert facilitators from civic and corporate organizations who cover core competencies from team leadership and design thinking to negotiating and developing networks.

    The program this year will comprise live, virtual sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 11:30  a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST, beginning April 15 and ending June 1. The cost is $1,499 and registration is open now. For more information, or to nominate someone for participation, visit the WLI website.

    “The Women’s Leadership Institute at Furman is a wonderful opportunity to network with other female leaders in the community, learn more about my own natural strengths and abilities, and discover how I can use my voice to be an advocate for change in our local community,” says Jessica McCoy, a 2020 WLI graduate.

    “I would recommend this program to anyone who is actively seeking to make a difference in every area of their life. I promise you won’t regret a single second of it,” said McCoy, the business development manager for Brasfield and Gorrie, one of the country’s largest privately held construction companies.

    “The Women’s Leadership Institute has a long history of helping women succeed in their chosen careers and in life,” said Elizabeth Davis, Furman University president. “We are excited to have two cornerstone organizations join us this year to help extend our leadership training and advance equality, equity and diversity in the workplace.”

    Furman’s WLI began in 1998, and has helped more than 600 women from diverse sectors develop their leadership skills that are essential to advancing within their organizations.

    “Having United Community Bank and SCBIO join as presenting sponsor and presenting partner, respectively, increases the breadth and depth of the program into South Carolina’s business community,” says Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

    “United Community Bank is committed to making a difference in our community and we believe that is achieved through sponsoring programs that support the development of those who serve others,” said Moryah Jackson, vice president of community development and engagement for United Community Bank. “We are excited to be this year’s presenting sponsor and provide women with a professional development opportunity that will help them go out and make the world a better place.”

    “Furman’s Women’s Leadership Institute is among the premier programs in the Southeast devoted to promoting talent development, fostering invaluable connections and expanding new opportunities for current and emerging women leaders across the business ecosystem,” said Erin Ford, executive vice president and chief operating officer for SCBIO. “We are honored and enthusiastic supporters of the WLI program and mission, and look forward to being actively involved in this fantastic program.”

    Ford and Sam Konduros, chief executive officer and president of SCBIO, will present during one session, and a panel from United Community Bank will close the program on June 1.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    $30.2 million investment will create 425 new jobs see more

    Pall Corporation (Pall), a global leader in filtration, separation and purification, today announced plans to establish operations in Spartanburg County. The company is creating 425 new jobs and investing $30.2 million into a new facility that will support the rapid development and production of vaccines and therapeutics, including a COVID-19 vaccine.

    Pall serves the needs of customers across the broad spectrum of life sciences and industry and works with clients around the world to advance health, safety and environmentally responsible technologies.

    Located at 816 Berry Shoals Road in Duncan, Pall's new facility will focus primarily on single-use technology such as the Allegro™single-use platform.

    The facility is expected to be operational in May 2021. Individuals interested in joining the Pall team should visit the company's careers webpage.

    The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to the project.

    QUOTES

    "Spartanburg County provides Pall with the diverse workforce we need to manufacture life-saving therapeutics and vaccines. We look forward to building our presence in this county." -Pall Life Sciences President Joseph Repp

    "Pall Corporation's decision to invest into South Carolina comes at a time when our life sciences sector has evolved into one of our fastest-growing industries. The continued development of life sciences will create high-paying jobs that will ensure wellness and prosperity in South Carolina for years to come." -Gov. Henry McMaster

    "We could not be happier with Pall Corporation's decision to invest in Spartanburg County. We welcome this globally recognized company to South Carolina, and we look forward to partnering with them going forward." -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt

    "The decision by Pall Corporation to come to Spartanburg is a win for our county, and a win for our budding life sciences sector. The variety of investments coming into our county, and the diversity of the industries that now call Spartanburg home, is a sign that our future is bright in the years to come." -Spartanburg County Councilman and Chairman of the Economic Development Committee David Britt

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Vikor Scientific and Quantgene announce major advance in precision genomics see more

    Courtesy of GSA Business

    Starting this March, a South Carolina lab will become ground zero for a preventative test that can detect cancer-causing mutations, risks or tumors in advance through a quick blood sample taken at home or a physician’s office.

    S.C. life science organization SCBio and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance linked together Charleston’s Vikor Scientific and California’s Quantgene Inc. when the West Coast company was on the hunt for a lab that could commercialize its AI and genomic-powered preventative care program, Serenity.

    Serenity puts to task a deep genomic sequence process that covers 20,000 genes in combination with the disease, medication and lifestyle risks that could contribute to multiple variations of cancer. Along with the blood test, or “liquid biopsy,” it can detect cancerous mutations in the blood, according to Vikor Scientific co-founder Shea Harrelson.

    “What this means is that we can detect cancer early enough so that patients don’t have to resort to chemotherapy,” she said during SCBio’s Virtual Meeting Wednesday morning. “They may have options for immunotherapy or aggressive preventative strategies or even excisional therapy.”

    Patient-specific health profiles covering personal and family history, as well as lifestyle choices, will brief analysts on how additional risks may contribute to a patient’s likelihood of developing early-stage cancer, thus prompting preventative care.

    “With Serenity, we are first-to-market in combining liquid biopsy cancer detection with whole exome sequencing and advanced medical intelligence,” Johannes Bhakdi, founder and CEO of Quantgene, said in a news release. “We hope to unlock a new era in medicine in which trained physicians can detect multiple cancers at early stages in the blood with single molecule precision. Serenity brings genomic technologies to patients within an innovative system of preventative care that we believe will set a new standard in patient-centered personalized medicine. We are excited to take this important step with our partners at Vikor Scientific.”

    Vikor Scientific, a hub for medical testing, will process test results in collaboration with Serenity’s proprietary cloud for both individual end-users and health care professionals.

    The South Carolina company will launch its public awareness and physician education campaigns alongside the concierge-product release on March 1, according to Scotty Branch, co-founder of Vikor Scientific, and will soon build out its current location in Charleston.

    “Our number one goal is to educate physicians throughout the country, which is what we do best,” Branch told GSA Business Report, adding that the team is working to get insurance companies on board with the treatment program now.

    “Until then, the liquid biopsy, or the early detection portion, will be on a concierge or cash-paid basis,” he said.

    Vikor Scientific will conduct whole exome sequencing and send that information to the Serenity cloud for both physicians and individual consumers, potentially for a variety of uses.

    While existing genetic tests on the market like those sold by 23 and Me may be able to offer a surface level detection of certain cancer-causing genetic variations in a patient, Serenity takes genomic testing to the next step of preventative treatment, the company said.

    “Genetic mutations only play a role in about 5% to 10% of cancer,” Harrelson said. “So, there’s about 90-95% of cancers that don’t have genetic mutations, and without that, you still have a lot of familial cancers. And most people die from cancer than heart disease or automobile accidents, so this liquid biopsy test will be very important, because if patients have put stress on their body or smoke or other risk factors that can increase their chance for cancer, this liquid biopsy test is pretty painless and a great screening tool for this and other cancers that … like pancreatic cancer. We often don’t find out about pancreatic cancer until stage three or four.”

    Taking into account detected at-risk genetic variations, the Vikor-Quantgene team will analyze additional risks for early stages of cancer through the liquid biopsy test, in lieu of more invasive measures, which can detect whether nascent tumors are forming in the body.

    “It’s a great continuum of care,” he added. The test analysis could then be used, in tandem with additional data, to launch preventative treatment and care.

    “We need to use liquid biopsy as part of an annual or bi-annual screening,” Branch said.

    After a Monday Vikor Scientific Board meeting, Branch said 99% of the plans for the facility buildout have been nailed down. The full announcement will come when the company approves the final portion of its development strategy.

    “This is an amazing announcement for South Carolina and for economic development, where we are going to build out at our location at 22 West Edge, where Vikor’s location is currently,” he said. The company will start small with 10 to 20 new employees and scale up from there. “That is exciting news that a corporate hub would be located here in Charleston’s West Edge Medical Innovation District."

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Executive Partnering, Virtual Exhibit Hall Add Draw for Power of Us Conference Feb. 16-17 see more

    With conference registration surging more than 20% past prior record levels and the addition of a “singularly significant innovation announcement focused on cancer treatments and precision medicine advancement”, SCBIO's “The Power of Us”  virtual conference Feb. 16-17 is preparing for its largest gathering ever next week... delivered virtually to registrants from across the Palmetto State plus 25 states and 8 countries.

    Adding to the excitement is a just-scheduled “major innovation announcement” by a South Carolina company, in tandem with West Coast and German allies, that has significant implications for cancer diagnosis and treatment on a global level, organizers say.

    Already in excess of 500 registrants from across America and around the globe, the acclaimed SCBIO conference – the annual gathering of South Carolina’s life sciences community – will also celebrate the rapid growth of the industry and the contributions of its 800+ organizations in helping America and the world overcome the brutal COVID-19 pandemic.

    South Carolina life sciences has seen a doubling of firms and 40% increase in life sciences’ direct employment since 2017, which combine to make it the fastest growing industry sector in the state, according to recent data provided by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, the state's research economist and noted economic development expert with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

    “Dr. Von Nessen’s data validates that the life sciences industry in South Carolina is experiencing stunning growth, thanks to the combined efforts of our state’s economic development teams, industry partners, research universities, elected officials and other partners,” said SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros.  “It’s an exciting time to be a part of an industry that is saving lives and improving quality of care.”

    The industry has a $12+ billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 800 firms located in 42 of 46 counties across the state and over 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotechnology products.

    Organizers are tight-lipped about the Innovation Announcement details, which will be unveiled at 8:30 a.m. on the second day of the conference—February 17. 

    “We will say that the implications of the announcement include a new technology that has the ability to detect cancers at the earliest time ever, to further lifespans, and to unlock a new era of precision medicine, ” said Mr. Konduros.

    Adding to the draw of the conference are scores of organizations from across America showcasing their capabilities in a virtual exhibit hall, direct 1-to-1 executive meetings on demand via a Partnering Portal, major industry awards and – naturally – top speakers.

    Committed presenters include BIO Global CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath; Microsoft Vice President Jamie Harper, who leads the global team supporting higher education and K-12 initiatives; and Bill Stadtlander, Commercial Leader of Verily, the Google subsidiary focused on life sciences and use of health data and AI to improve lives.

    Also speaking at SCBIO 2021 are Courtney Christian, Senior Director of Policy and Research at PhRMA and former leader of the Black Women's Health Imperative; Dr. Harris Pastides, former USC President and outgoing chair of the SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health; Dr. Pat Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health; and Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, Dean of the USC School of Medicine - Upstate and Chief Academic Officer of Prisma Health Upstate, among others.

    Themed “The Power of Us,” the 2-day SCBIO 2021 virtual event will feature sessions on The Power of Innovation, The Power of Partnership, and The Power of People – each a fundamental force which drives the state’s surging $12 billion industry that is a key contributor to South Carolina’s expanding knowledge economy.

    The conference will also feature SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros delivering the “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, and release of SCBIO’s 2020 annual report

    Leaders already registered to attend include executives from Presenting Sponsor Vikor Scientific, Champion Sponsor Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Keynote Sponsor Medpoint, Pinnacle Awards Sponsor Softbox and others.  Leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating include BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Ritedose Corporation, Rhythmlink, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Zverse, Abbott, Alcami, SSOE – Stevens & Wilkinson, and more.  All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and others.

    Registration is open online at the 2021 Virtual Conference section of www.scbio.org.  Registration is free to employees of most SCBIO investors and supporters as well as to students interested in life sciences careers, while faculty and teachers can attend the entire conference for $25.  General admission tickets are available for as little as $75.  Virtual Exhibit  space and sponsorships are also available by inquiring at info@scbio.org.

    For additional information on SCBIO or to register for SCBIO 2021, visit www.SCBIO.org.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Founders take virtual stage at South Carolina life sciences conference to introduce technology see more

    Founders take virtual stage at South Carolina life sciences conference to introduce revolutionary ability for early detection of cancer mutations

     

    Santa Monica, CA and Charleston, SC -- Feb. 17, 2021Vikor Scientific, a South Carolina-based leading, molecular diagnostics company with a rapidly expanding nationwide footprint, has announced a strategic investment in California-based Quantgene Inc. to accelerate the commercialization of Quantgene’s flagship product, SerenityTM. Serenity provides world-leading accuracy in precision genomics and AI-enabled personalized preventative care.

    Quantgene’s Serenity combines advanced next-generation sequencing with proprietary cloud and AI technology to uncover deeper and more meaningful health insights earlier. Serenity will launch with four core components of health protection:

    • Liquid biopsy to detect cancer-related mutations in the blood to support early detection
    • Deep genomic sequencing across all 20,000 genes for a more complete picture of disease, medication and lifestyle risks
    • In-depth patient health profiles including health history, family history and lifestyle to bring more context to test results
    • An expert clinical team to provide analysis and connect patients to a network of world-leading medical experts

     

    The combination of these components allow the system to detect, flag and monitor disease and disease risk at earlier stages. Early intervention for potentially fatal conditions like cancer is critical to ensuring better treatment response and long-term outcomes. This is a critical advancement in marrying medicine and technology to ensure the company realizes their mission of extending the average lifespan of members by a decade within a decade.

    South Carolina-based Vikor Scientific is a market leader in providing targeted, molecular diagnostics that can improve clinical and economic outcomes.  Headquartered in Charleston, S.C., Vikor anchors the WestEdge Life Sciences Campus adjacent to the Medical University of South Carolina and is approaching 400 employees nationwide.  The announcement was made at SCBIO 2021, the acclaimed national conference of South Carolina’s life sciences industry which draws industry leaders from around the globe.

    In addition to ensuring the successful launch of Serenity commercially, the new partners have plans to launch several downstream liquid biopsy-based clinical oncology products including minimum residual disease detection (“MRD”), recurrence monitoring and companion diagnostics over the next several months. Vikor Scientific will leverage their proven commercialization engine for innovative molecular diagnostics technologies and leverage their growing national salesforce in service of the new product roll outs.

    Shea Harrelson, co-founder of Vikor Scientific, said: “In Quantgene, Vikor saw a compelling opportunity to support the commercialization of advanced genomics in the service of preventative care and positively impacting the course of many chronic diseases, starting with cancer. This partnership aligns perfectly with our mission as a company - to improve patient outcomes and prevent unnecessary healthcare costs and delays in treatment by improving diagnostic accuracy, reducing turnaround time and personalizing treatment options.”

    Scotty Branch, co-founder of Vikor Scientific added: “Changing the paradigm of healthcare has always been the vision for Vikor Scientific. The platform built by the Quantgene team is revolutionary and certain to accelerate the speed at which we diagnose and treat patients for cancer. Vikor is excited to lead the commercialization and expand on our mission of driving clinical outcomes. And we are particularly excited to do so here in Charleston, where we envision a dynamic future for innovation, growth and expansion of the booming life sciences hub here in South Carolina.”

    “With Serenity, we are first-to-market in combining liquid biopsy cancer detection with whole exome sequencing and advanced medical intelligence. We hope to unlock a new era in medicine in which trained physicians can detect multiple cancers at early stages in the blood with single molecule precision.” added Jo Bhakdi, founder and CEO of Quantgene. “Serenity brings genomic technologies to patients within an innovative system of preventative care that we believe will set a new standard in patient-centered personalized medicine. We are excited to take this important step with our partners at Vikor Scientific.”

    Alluding to Serenity as a new frontier in science that “promises earlier detection than ever and promises to unlock a new era of medicine,” Branch saluted the role of SCBIO and the Charleston Regional Development Authority in making the announcement a reality.

    “I can envision the day when this collaboration leads to a new corporate hub here with new labs and bright new talent from South Carolina medical schools advancing this revolutionary technology,” Branch added.  “We credit the efforts of SCBIO and this state in bringing our organization and Quantgene together, and we intend to identify new collaborations and partnerships that advance the future of medicine, and promise a healthier future for our state, country and world.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Robotics usage expands at Nephron see more

    Two years ago, Nephron Pharmaceuticals brought a problem to the engineering and pharmacy colleges at the University of South Carolina.

    When employees operating machinery at Nephron called in sick or otherwise couldn’t come to work, production is halted. Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy hoped the company and the two colleges could find a solution.

    Kennedy is no stranger to the university, having graduated from USC. She and her husband Bill also established the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center in conjunction with the USC School of Pharmacy.

    However, she had not been a part of a collaboration with the university that actually shifted the way the West Columbia drug manufacturer operates.

    After several classes of mechanical engineering students and pharmacy students worked to fix the problem, the project was finally completed this year— a robot named Smithers after The Simpsons character. The robot improves productivity by cutting out most of the human involvement in pre-filling sterile syringes with injectable medicines.

    While Nephron has faster robots than Smithers, they require more human intervention.

    “It just continues to make drugs without, frankly, a bathroom break or other things. So a steady machine, even if it’s slower, is better than people who haven’t shown up for the night and we have orders to fill,” Kennedy said.

    Despite increased automation, Kennedy said employment will not be hurt. Nephron is currently in a hiring surge, trying to fill 380 positions including sterile pharmacy technicians and automation engineers. This year, Nephron will open its state-of-the-art vaccine production facility as part of a $215 million expansion.

    “I can’t hire enough sterile pharmacy techs for what I need fast enough because of our growth, so this is just augmenting what we’re already doing— not to replace humans,” Kennedy said.

    The robot consists of four pieces of equipment, all designed by students, that work together to mimic the actions of a human pre-filling sterile syringes, according to Nephron’s chief of engineering and USC mechanical engineering professor Ramy Harik. Separate pieces pick up the syringes, complete the filling process and cap the syringes to seal them.

    Harik led three different teams of senior engineering students over two years to create the robot, while pharmacy students made sure the medical and sterilization aspects of the robot was safe for future human injection. The teams tested nearly ten different designs before finding one that worked.

    The machine, which was installed last week, is being validated for commercial use and should be up and running in a couple of weeks, said Kennedy. She has already ordered the parts to make another one to put into production and hopes to have several of them going at the same time one day.

    “My dream for the university is that we could commercially market these robots for hospitals around the world,” said Kennedy. “If we had the ultimate dream, it would be to sell these and a portion of the proceeds go back to the pharmacy and engineering school and allow us to endow a scholarship for future research.”

    From the partnership, Harik created a pharmaceutical manufacturing class at USC for the next semester, and Nephron donated the equipment needed for students in the form of a glass cleanroom. The room allows students to work in a sterile environment for pharmacy manufacturing.

    “Usually an entry-level engineer wouldn’t be given the opportunity to build an entire system from the ground up and it’s just been a great opportunity,” said John Diamond, one of the engineering students who started the project and now works at Nephron.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Registrations Surge, Partnering and Virtual Exhibit Hall Draw Strong Interest see more

    A newly announced group of national and state leaders will join Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath in headlining SCBIO's “The Power of Us”  virtual conference slated for broadcast Feb. 16-17.

    Newly announced additions include Microsoft Vice President Jamie Harper, who leads the global corporation's team supporting both higher education and K-12 initiatives across America, and Bill Stadtlander, Commercial Leader of Verily, the Google subsidiary focused on life sciences and use of health data and AI to improve lives.

    At Microsoft, Mr. Harper leads a team that supports higher education and K-12 initiatives impacting students, teachers, and leaders both public and private.  He previously has led Microsoft's US Education team and served as the General Manager of ten countries in Asia and South Africa.  Prior to Microsoft, Jamie worked for The Coca-Cola Company and Westinghouse Power Generation.  He holds an MBA from Emory University, and a degree in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Economics from Clemson University.

    Mr. Stadtlander is the Commercial Lead at Verily for Baseline, its end-to-end digital platform solution to transform clinical research by increasing participation, driving efficiency and incorporating novel data. Bill has over 15 years of commercial healthcare experience with prior roles at Ceribell, Element Science, Boston Scientific and McKinsey & Co.'s healthcare practice. He holds an MBA from Wharton, a Master of Biotechnology from University of Pennsylvania, and Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering degrees from MIT.

    Also named to speak at SCBIO 2021 are Courtney Christian, Senior Director of Policy and Research at PhRMA and former leader of the Black Women's Health Imperative; Dr. Harris Pastides, former USC President and outgoing chair of the SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health; Dr. Pat Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health; and Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, Dean of the USC School of Medicine - Upstate and Chief Academic Officer of Prisma Health Upstate, among other speakers.

    Themed “The Power of Us,” the 2-day SCBIO 2021 virtual event will feature sessions on The Power of Innovation, The Power of Partnership, and The Power of People – each a fundamental force which drives the state’s surging $12 billion industry that is a key contributor to South Carolina’s expanding knowledge economy.

    The conference will feature a virtual exhibit hall showcasing scores of life sciences industry organizations from across the country, and presentation of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards by South Carolina Life Sciences to the outstanding 2020 Organization of the Year and Individual of the Year.  SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros will deliver the “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, while attendees can schedule 1-to-1 meetings with top executives through the conference’s Partnering Portal

    Hundreds of life sciences leaders from across the nation are already registered to attend with hundreds more expected.  SCBIO's virtual conference is supported by Presenting Sponsor Vikor Scientific, Champion Sponsor Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Keynote Sponsor Medpoint and others.  Among leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating are Nephron, Vikor, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Ritedose Corporation, Rhythmlink, SoftBox Systems, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Zverse, Abbott, Alcami and more.  All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, and entities including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and others.

    Registration is open online at the 2021 Virtual Conference section of www.scbio.org.  Registration is free to employees of most SCBIO investors and supporters as well as to students interested in life sciences careers, while faculty and teachers can attend the entire conference for $25.  General admission tickets are available for as little as $75.  Virtual Exhibit  space and sponsorships are also available by inquiring at info@scbio.org.

    SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state.  The industry has a $12 billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 750 firms directly involved and over 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotechnology products.

    For additional information on SCBIO or to register for SCBIO 2021, visit www.SCBIO.org.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    South Carolina's Rhythmlink acquires California-based med device manufacturer see more

    COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – Rhythmlink International, LLC is pleased to announce an exciting new investment, the acquisition of Chalgren Enterprises, a California-based medical device manufacturer that will add to their already extensive portfolio of products for brain and nervous system monitoring.  

    As a market leading designer and manufacturer of disposable neurodiagnostic devices and consumables, Rhythmlink has been quickly growing, even during an otherwise challenging year. Chalgren Enterprises provided another growth opportunity with a close alignment of culture, values, and product manufacturing expertise. The acquisition was completed on December 11, 2020. 

    “Chalgren is a good fit for our first acquisition both because of their experience in our industry and the way our cultures and missions align,” said Shawn Regan, CEO and Co-Founder of Rhythmlink. “Even with minimal changes we believe within the first year we’ll be able to take the Chalgren line of products and apply our manufacturing and sales best practices to see extensive growth.” 

    Chalgren Enterprises has been manufacturing electrodes for neurodiagnostics, specializing in EMG electrodes, for over 50 years. For the last 30 years Chalgren has been run by the father and son team of Richard and Michael Kaiser, who have seen the industry evolve from reusable to disposable products, product innovations, and a host of market and regulatory changes that have defined neurodiagnostic medical devices. Their reputation in the EMG market especially made them an appealing partner for Rhythmlink. 

    “Chalgren’s extensive experience is a good match for our innovation and steady growth,” said Regan. “Taking on their EMG products and legacy knowledge of EEG is a natural fit for our existing product lines and helps us encompass the full need of products that connect patients to machines.”

    With the acquisition of Chalgren, Rhythmlink International will now offer products for epilepsy monitoring, electroencephalography, electromyography, evoked potentials, polysomnography, intraoperative monitoring and more, better serving the needs of neurologists and critical care providers through one company. 

    Regan concluded, “The culture we have built at Rhythmlink and our reputation in the marketplace are incredibly important to us, and Chalgren comes to us with more similarities than differences. We wanted growth that would ensure this dynamic would stay intact, and we’re excited about the future of these products and our company.”

    About Rhythmlink
    Rhythmlink International is a medical device manufacturing company specializing in devices that help connect patients to machines to record or elicit physiologic information. Rhythmlink designs, manufactures and distributes a variety of medical devices for intraoperative neuromonitoring, electroencephalography, evoked potentials, polysomnography, long-term monitoring epilepsy and critical care units. Founded by neurodiagnostic technologists and engineers in 2002, Rhythmlink enhances patient care worldwide by transforming medical device technology that links patients to equipment. Rhythmlink also offers custom packaging, custom products, private labeling and contract manufacturing services.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    News you can use about SC life sciences see more

    Catch up on all the important reading around South Carolina life sciences -- and the national and global issues impacting it.  It's all here, easy to read in just a few minutes, with dozens of helpful links.  Enjoy!  

    Click to read...

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Charleston, Vikor Scientific featured in national media see more

    Compliments of Charleston Regional Development Alliance and Business Insider

    Empty hotel rooms, half-full offices, and shuttered retail. The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the most established commercial real estate asset classes, creating short-term financial crunches and raising long-term secular concerns as remote work is tested and e-commerce rates rise.

    Other asset classes, once alternatives, have become institutional investing gold standard. Logistics assets such as warehouses are providing a punch to the portfolio of the world’s largest landlord, Blackstone.

    As industrial real estate investing becomes more crowded, and many of the other large asset classes slump, attention is turning to life sciences real estate — or space that’s used by pharmaceutical and biotech companies for research, development, and even manufacturing of new diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines.

    The life science industry had been growing rapidly before the pandemic, attracting $17.4 billion in venture capital funding in 2019, up 370% from $3.7 billion in 2008, according to a Cushman & Wakefield report. Funding has continued to pour into the sector, even as coronavirus has slowed down venture funding overall, creating demand for more lab space.

    Read the entire story here...

  • sam patrick posted an article
    This week's South Carolina life sciences newsletter is hot off the press! see more

    Enjoy this week's newsletter from SCBIO featuring updates on South Carolina's inaugural Women in Life Sciences initiatives... a report on MUSC's growing economic impact statewide... details on more Palmetto State organizations stepping up for the greater good...  an update from EVP Erin Ford and much, much more...  click here to read complete details!