COVID-19

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Milliken leveraging textile expertise in COVID fight see more

    Compliments of Spartanburg CEO

    Milliken & Company, a global diversified manufacturer with more than 150 years of textile expertise, has invested significant resources to increase domestic production of its Milliken PerimeterTM advanced medical fabrics. Since March, the company has distributed more than 10 million yards of reusable medical fabrics in response to the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). This recent inventory increase signals Milliken’s continued commitment to ensuring a sustainable, U.S.-based PPE supply chain.

    Reusable medical textiles are ideal when cost is a driving factor and when single-use PPE supply is limited or unreliable. Garments made with Perimeter fabric can be laundered for safe reuse at least 25 times. The current demand for protective medical garments and the potential for shortages in the fall and winter prompted Milliken to prioritize production of the advanced material.

    “Scaling up U.S. manufacturing of reusable protective fabrics protects the country’s PPE pipeline, which in turn protects more medical professionals,” said Chad McAllister, president of Milliken’s Textile Division and EVP, Milliken & Co. “These brave people have continued to care for us tirelessly, and we are committed to doing all we can to help keep them safe.”

    Milliken’s durable Perimeter fabric is not only engineered for manufacturing Level 1 and 2 gowns for critical medical environments such as trauma centers but also provides a smart solution for other industries such as dental, educational and hospitality environments where advanced PPE is now important. The material’s ability to be used multiple times while maintaining a demonstrated protective barrier makes it a cost-effective, made-in-USA alternative to single-use PPE.

    “An increasing number of industries and service providers are looking for American-made PPE solutions to protect their employees and customers. This demand highlights the critical need we noted earlier this year, specifically for the U.S. to have a stable PPE supply chain,” McAllister said. “Our goal at Milliken is to be part of the solution, so we’re proactively taking steps to help avoid another shortage of critical PPE.”

    Milliken is collaborating with industry partners to ensure protective garments made with Milliken Perimeter fabric are available immediately across the country.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    SCBIO webinar generates stance from SC Senator Lindsey Graham on repatriation see more

    Compliments of South Carolina CEO

    South Carolina's senior Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced legislation last week that he cited as important during a recent SCBIO webinar, saying it will make sure that essential medical personal protective equipment is made in America.

    With support from other senators, Sen. Graham introduced the U.S. Made Act of 2020 to “decrease U.S. dependence on countries like China for personal protective equipment for our health care providers." 

    “With the spread of coronavirus, the inability of the United States to be self-sufficient with our supply of PPE has shown itself to be a national security issue,” he stated. “Just as the United States does not rely on China to supply military uniforms or equipment, we must not rely on them to supply PPE.”

    Items declared national priorities include testing swabs, surgical and respirator masks, face shields, surgical and isolation gowns, sanitizing and disinfecting wipes, gauzes and bandages, and privacy curtains, beds and bedding.

    The bill also outlines personal protective equipment acquisition requirements for the Strategic National Stockpile, and establishes an investment credit for qualifying personal protective equipment manufacturing projects.

    “Coronavirus has been a painful wake-up call that we are too reliant on nations like China for critical medical supplies,” Sen. Graham noted. “Without changes, China remains set to dominate the PPE market for years to come. We have seen firsthand the problems not having a reliable source of PPE places on our health care system. The Chinese grip on this critical supply chain must come to an end, and this legislation accomplishes that goal.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    SC life sciences news of note fro your reading pleasure is now live! see more

    This edition of SCBIO's semi-monthly newsletter is chock full of great information, including next week's eagerly anticipated webinar featuring top elected officials on SC's path forward from COVID, the "Slow the Spread" PSA campaign from BCBSSC and SCHA, highlights on companies stepping up in tough times, late-breaking news and more.  Read the entire thing by clicking here!

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Partnership Reduces Barriers to Testing, Provides Top Quality to Customers see more

    Compliments of MidlandsBiz

    Partnership Reduces Barriers to Testing, Provides Top Quality to Customers

    Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, one of the fastest-growing pharmaceuticals companies in the country, announced a new collaboration with Methapharm.

    As a part of this collaboration, Nephron will produce kits of methacholine chloride sterile inhalation solution in ready-to-administer concentrations for bronchoprovocation challenge testing, when diagnosing respiratory illnesses, such as asthma.

    “Methapharm will be a fantastic partner,” said Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy. “Patients deserve access to the very best respiratory tests available, that’s what this collaboration will offer, and that’s why we are looking forward to working with Methapharm.”

    Working together with Methapharm, Nephron will be able to supply stable room temperature solution kits, ensuring that testing facilities can continue to rely on the quality and reliability of Provocholine for their bronchoprovocation testing needs.

    “Through this partnership with Nephron, Methapharm continues its mission to help reduce barriers to testing, provide the level of quality our customers expect, and contribute to better healthcare outcomes for our patients,” said Craig Baxter CEO of Methapharm. “We’ve been impressed by Nephron’s capabilities and professionalism.”

    Provocholine® is the only FDA-approved methacholine chloride powder for use in humans. Methapharm, the manufacturer of Provocholine, has always tried to be responsive to needs of our testing partners. For example, in response to the revised ERS technical standard, Methapharm initiated a comprehensive nebulizer characterization study to support the recommendation of PD20 as a clinical endpoint. This was published in a technical bulletin earlier this year.

     

    Nephron

    A West Columbia, S.C.-based company, Nephron develops and produces safe, affordable generic inhalation solutions and suspension products, including those used to treat severe respiratory distress symptoms associated with COVID-19. The company also operates an industry-leading 503B Outsourcing Facility division which produces pre-filled sterile syringes and IV bags for hospitals across America, in an effort to alleviate their drug shortage needs. Nephron fills the needs of patients and health care professionals as they arise nationwide, and recently opened a CLIA-certified diagnostics lab.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Vikor Scientific featured in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville Business magazines see more

    Courtesy of Greenville, Charleston and Columbia Business Magazines

    A number of South Carolina-based life sciences companies joined the battle against COVID-19 when the pandemic hit in early March.  Prominent among this group is Charleston-based Vikor Scientific, a testing laboratory founded just over two years ago by entrepreneurs Shae Harrelson and Scotty Branch.

    Vikor developed a COVID-19 test kit that is now widely used by nursing homes and other healthcare facilities across the nation.  The test kit also tests for more than 40 other pathogens known to cause respiratory illness.  Click to enjoy the entire article...

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Company opens new manufacturing, quality control facilities see more

    Compliments of MidlandsBiz

    AmbioPharm Inc. a leading supplier of peptide active pharmaceutical ingredients has recently opened its new manufacturing and quality control facilities at its headquarters in South Carolina.

    “The new buildings were completed in April and qualified by May 15, 2020 expanding our peptide manufacturing capacity,” stated Dr. Chris J. Bai, CEO. “The new buildings add nearly 56,000 sq. ft of production space to our current footprint in South Carolina. In the near future, our subsidiary site in Shanghai will also complete a new campus of 350,000 sq. ft. later this year.”

    “As the world battles the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly apparent that no single solution will suffice for patients who are fighting the disease. Peptide approaches have been recently advanced for potential vaccine development, diagnostic testing and as therapeutic agents to help ameliorate the cytokine storm,” stated Dr. Michael W. Pennington, CSO. “Furthermore, we believe that science will prove to be the Achilles’ heel of the virus, and the world will recover more quickly as better therapies become available,” added Dr. Pennington.

    AmbioPharm Inc. is uniquely positioned to help companies that are developing peptide-based approaches targeting the virus. As the company with the world’s largest cGMP peptide manufacturing capacity, AmbioPharm Inc. has a very unique business model which helps us to produce peptides of both high quality and purity with very economical cost. AmbioPharm Inc. can be contacted through our website if you have a project which requires our services.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    SCRA funds organizations for their COVID work see more

    Compliments of Upstate Biz

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) and its investment affiliate, SC Launch, Inc. have dedicated an additional $1.5 million in funding to support businesses that are providing coronavirus-related solutions and to help their current portfolio companies continue to meet their financial goals during this time.

    Companies receiving funding to provide COVID-19 solutions are:

    • Blue Eye Soft (COVID-19 detection and diagnosis)
    • Carolina Diagnostic Solutions (pulmonary self-monitoring tools)
    • Citibot (citizen engagement solution)
    • Elastrin Therapeutics (treatment of lung-related illnesses)
    • Pure Aqua Solution (destruction of pathogens including COVID-19)
    • Precision Genetics (COVID-19 testing)
    • Resiliency Technology, Inc. dba SHARPEN (mental health support for healthcare workers)
    • Zylö Therapeutics (treatment of COVID-19 and other lung related illnesses)

    Additional companies have received investments to help them continue growing their companies in spite of the pandemic. These are:

    • ActiveEd (Walkabout app promoting learning and physical activity)
    • BandwagonFanClub (fan demographic reporting to elevate event experiences)
    • Ellipsis Technologies (anti-fraud and other cybersecurity tools)
    • Global Transplant Solutions (organ preservation products)
    • PEC360 (patient experience software)
    • REsimplifi (commercial real estate property search)

    “Our mission of fueling South Carolina’s innovation economy includes answering the call to help during this COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our current client companies were already providing or developing solutions related to COVID-19 while others quickly pivoted to address the pandemic. We are proud to be able to provide the support necessary to maximize the impact of these solutions,” said Bob Quinn, Executive Director of SCRA.

    In addition to investing financially, SCRA is also involved in other initiatives to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff members are serving on various taskforces and committees with health systems and economic development organizations. Other SCRA-supported companies are providing solutions to the pandemic including Modjoul, which has developed an employee health screening platform, Humimic Medical and ZVerse, which are producing protective shields, and Vikor Scientific, which is providing respiratory pathogen testing. Lastly, SCRA is sharing COVID-19 resources online and through social media.

     

    About SCRA

    Chartered in 1983 by the State of South Carolina as a public, nonprofit corporation SCRA is a state-chartered organization that fuels job creation and grows South Carolina’s innovation economy. Through SCRA’s programs, SC Academic Innovations, SC Facilities, SC Launch and SC Ventures, researchers, developers and early-stage companies are receiving mentoring and funding, and may be eligible for an investment from SCRA’s investment affiliate, SC Launch, Inc.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    ZVerse and Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing step up for South Carolina see more

    Compliments of Post & Courier

    Two South Carolina companies -- ZVerse and Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing -- jumped into action to meet the needs of the response to the coronavirus, manufacturing vital pieces of equipment at a time when they were urgently needed and unlikely to be easily available for import.

    In doing so, they played key roles as the country rushed to provide the medical supplies needed to protect the lives of the sick and their caregivers. 

    In Columbia, ZVerse began March as a company that helped manufacturers by creating more effective computer files for their production processes. It had the capability to do some 3D printing but did not usually do manufacturing.

    Read on to enjoy the full story...

  • sam patrick posted an article
    SC's Post-COVID Future to be discussed June 23 in free webinar see more

    Four leaders from the Palmetto State will be joined by a national expert on Infectious Disease June 23 at 10 a.m. for a free webinar discussion on leadership strategies to help South Carolina weather the challenges of COVID-19 and rebound rapidly from the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

    Entitled “Bold Leadership in the Eye of the Storm: Insights & Strategies to Secure Our Future", the program will feature U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham; University of South Carolina President Robert Caslen; Lou Kennedy, CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals; and Dr. Phyllis Arthur, VP Infectious Diseases and Diagnostics Policy, BIO.  The group discussion will be moderated by Sam Konduros, CEO of SCBIO, the state’s life sciences economic development organization.

    The group will discuss such topics as:

    • How major universities, colleges and school systems will strive to safely reopen to welcome back students in the Fall, while also encouraging participation in related educational and social activities that are core to the educational experience
    • National/global feedback on how the life sciences industry has fared to date in the ongoing battle against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and the likelihood and timing for major advances in testing, treatment and vaccines becoming available across the country
    • Industry’s perspective on the approach taken to accelerate the reopening of South Carolina’s economy, and what must be done to ensure safety for citizens while battling against the troublesome economic downturn the pandemic has created
    • The strategic importance of developing policy around the re-shoring production of essential healthcare equipment, pharmaceuticals and ingredients, personal protective equipment and other medical products and devices back to the US and South Carolina from abroad.

    Participation in the webinar is free to all interested parties.  Those wishing to participate can register while space remains at https://www.scbio.org/events/lessons-learned-by-industry-government-higher-education-from-the-covid-crisis.   

    The 60-minute program will provide attendees with a real-time review of the pandemic’s impact in South Carolina to date, implications for returning to normalcy in the upcoming months, and insights and strategies to secure and enhance the state’s future.  The panelists will also address a realistic path forward as South Carolina begins the move to return to normalcy while still navigating a virus with no clear endpoint.

    “Our goal is to bring the diverse viewpoints of top leaders in government, industry, education and the life sciences industry together in one forum to assess where we are, and how we can make a difference for our citizens in recovering from COVID-19’s impact in the weeks to come,” said SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros.

    “The panelists will also share their insights on important lessons learned, strategies for the future, and ways for all South Carolinians to come together to solve health, social and economic challenges and improve quality of life for our citizens,” he added.

    SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven public/private economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state.  The industry has an $11.4 billion annual economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 600 firms directly involved and 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products.  The state-wide nonprofit has offices in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, and represents companies in the advanced medicines, medical devices, equipment, diagnostics, IT, and healthcare outcome industries.  As the official state affiliate of BIO, PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members include hundreds of academic institutions, biotech companies, medtech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups.

    For additional information on SCBIO, visit www.SCBIO.org.

     

  • sam patrick posted an article
    COVID testing expands in workplace see more

    Courtesy of GSA Business Report & Molly Hulsey

    As industry begins to reopen across the state, life science companies turn their sights to expanding COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing options for the workplace.

    Greenville-based lab Precision Genetics partnered with Prisma Health in early April to process the health care system’s COVID-19 tests within 24-hours of reaching the lab.

    Now that this testing line is fully automated with the capacity to churn out about 1,000 samples in a matter of hours, the lab is developing plans for the next testing battleground with a high-throughput COVID-19 diagnostic program called “Precision Worker Safety” and a smartphone employee wellness app created by Questis that uses an RFID thermometer to report feverish temperatures to employers.

    “Up here in Greenville, manufacturing is a huge, huge part of our economic situation, so we have to be able to provide employers some kind of assurance that their employees can come back to work without a rapid spread of the virus,” Nate Wilbourne, CEO and president of Precision Genetics said, adding that it is “naive” to think the state peaked in mid-April with so little testing.

    He said Precision is working with several large self-insured manufacturing companies as well as poultry suppliers to develop a salvia-based testing strategy. Pending a state-supported grant that the lab applied for during the week of May 1, Precision will launch saliva-based testing within three weeks.

    Other methods of testing face a waiting period before they can be implemented, while the app is several months away from release, he said.

    “What we’ve developed is a combination approach to COVID-19 screening and an antibody test as it evolves, as the workforce is building up an immunity at the individual level, which reduces the spread over time,” he said. “Until there’s a vaccine or some type of therapy, that is the safest way to go about this.”

    In late April, however, Wilbourne said current antibody tests led to a number of false positives and negatives.

    “Unfortunately, antibody testing is not very reliable today, as it sits,” he said. “There are still a lot of gaps in the science regarding the sensitivities and specifications. Right now, there are 50 proteins in the coronavirus. Right now, we (the health science community) are testing for multiple proteins, but there’s no way to guarantee which protein creates immunity.”

    He also said antibody testing can only detect antibodies a few weeks after individuals have recovered from COVID-19 but noted that the work of professionals like Dr. John Wrangle, Precision’s chief medical officer and medical oncologist at the Medical University of South Carolina, are heading up research to broaden the window of antibody detection and accuracy of the tests.

    Sam Konduros, CEO and president of SCBio, said the life sciences economic development network is working to support continued research and implementation of both diagnostic and antibody testing across the state.

    “Even from the beginning, we were trying to present every approved and available COVID-19 test kit option we were aware of, and as you can imagine, we are moving heavily into the world of antibody testing now too,” he said. Our primary goal in representing the life sciences industry in the state is to have a very ecumenical approach of what resources are available that can help employers reopen as safely as possible if working remotely is not an option.”

    One way SCBio hopes to open those options to employers is making test kits readily available to state industries through the COVID-19 Emergency Supply Collaborative that SCBio helped develop with the S.C. Manufacturers Extension Partnership, the S.C. Hospital Association and S.C. Department of Commerce.

    Created in early April with the goal of bridging shortages in personal protective equipment and other critical needs goods to health care systems, Konduros said the online portal also welcomes purchases from businesses, especially manufacturers, in need of South Carolina-made masks, disinfectant, test kits or a host of other high-demand products.

    On April 7, Konduros also noted that antibody testing tended to be a less reliable indicator than diagnostic testing at this point, but he sees potential for companies to use both, especially as antibody testing becomes more sophisticated and “herd immunity” builds.

    “From a diagnostic standpoint, there doesn’t seem to be a substitution for PCR testing, which is going to be the one way to confirm a diagnosis for someone with COVID-19, either someone who is showing acute symptoms or has had clear exposure, or is working in an environment where an employer would simply need to know there is that issue,” he said.

    On the other hand, Konduros is intrigued by the potential of workforce antibody testing as research moves forward, especially with tests used by Abbott Laboratories,  that detect IgG antibodies that remain in the bloodstream for several weeks after an individual recovers from COVID-19. He said that as the state moves into summer, Abbott is planning to release large quantities of IgG tests that are at least 98% accurate.

    “I certainly think the antibody tests are going to innovate and improve over time, and there’s going to be a lot more data to see how people are responding who have had COVID-19 and what kind of immunity is being developed. There are just so many variables right now,” Konduros said.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    South Carolina firm's NP Collection Swab offers a highly scalable injection-molded design see more

    South Carolina-based Hoowaki LLC has developed an innovative one-piece injection molded design for a COVID-19 swab to help close the gap in U.S. and global COVID-19 testing supplies. The 12-year old micro surface engineering and product solutions company has adapted its proprietary HOOWAKI MICROGRIP® surface technology to create micro-pillars used in the Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab that is shown in clinical user testing to meet existing industry-standard products for flexibility and performance. In independent laboratory testing (qPCR Assay) it has also been proven to be equivalent to the industry-standard flocked filament swabs in the collection of patient RNA that is critical for COVID-19 testing. Mass-production of its FDA registered, patent pending, Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab will begin this summer and is expected to reach at least several million units per month.

    "The Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab is an important answer to the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic," said Ralph Hulseman, president of Hoowaki LLC. "Our design allows for production to be quickly scaled in communities around the world—rapidly addressing the rising demand for swabs, a critically important element of all COVID-19 testing."

    A recent study by Harvard University [https://ethics.harvard.edu/files/center-for-ethics/files/roadmaptopandemicresilience_updated_4.20.20_0.pdf] cites the need for up to 20 million COVID-19 tests per day by the end of summer. The proprietary Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab is manufactured using advanced injection molding technologies that utilize existing equipment that is readily available in communities throughout the world. The swab's scalability is due to Hoowaki LLC's formulations and engineering designs working at existing injection molding facilities, which enables the swab to be produced in quantities that meet local demands anywhere in the world.

    "Prisma Health collaborated with Hoowaki LLC in the testing and development of the innovative new design. The soft feel and ease of use of the Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab tip impressed my team," said Jennifer Meredith, Ph.D., clinical microbiology director at Prisma Health-Upstate.

    "Prisma Health is excited to see a locally produced solution that could help ease the shortage of swabs for COVID-19 sample collection," said Meredith. "Hoowaki LLC's product has the potential to help us meet our commitment to our patients in the fight against COVID-19." Prisma Health, the largest healthcare system in South Carolina, harnessed its Rapid Innovation Task Force to help with the project.

    Hulseman credits several public-private partnerships that have helped to provide start-up funding for the swab's development: "As is the case for many businesses in today's environment, Hoowaki LLC adapted quickly to meet new challenges where demand is outpacing supply so we could remain not only viable as a company, but also pursue this pioneering technology. We're grateful for the backing of the Greenville Local Development Corporation (GLDC) and SC Launch, Inc., an investment affiliate of the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), who have been instrumental in helping us develop the Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab."

    "Hoowaki LLC is a great example of a small business that has proven to be a powerhouse of innovation during a time of incredible challenge," said David Barnett, Chairman of the Greenville Local Development Corporation. "We are proud of our continued support for Hoowaki LLC in the development of the NP Collection Swab."

    To learn more about the Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab visit www.hoowaki.com/covid19-swabs or call Hoowaki LLC at (864) 238-5631. Product inquiries may be sent to alex@hoowaki.com.

    About Hoowaki

    Hoowaki, LLC is a micro surface engineering services and product solutions company that has developed unique micro surface pattern designs, engineering algorithms, software and manufacturing know-how to address major markets. The company's micro surface technology provides grip or slip solutions in the form of films for medical devices, packaging and other industrial and consumer products. Their team includes experienced micro surface engineers, physicists, friction experts, medical device experts, entrepreneurs, inventors and developers. Hoowaki has market deployment partnerships with Havi (packaging) and BvW Holding AG (implanted medical devices). Hoowaki has a broad patent coverage of micro surface technology.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Healthcare leaders address good, not so good in COVID-19 response see more

    Four thought leaders from South Carolina healthcare’s executive ranks will address how SC health systems have responded to the impacts of COVID-19, compelling lessons learned, and what they see as the path forward for healthcare in the Palmetto State and beyond, in a free, public webinar to be held Tuesday, May 19 at 10 a.m. EST, officials have announced.

    Featured panelists include Dr. Danielle Scheurer, Chief Quality Officer of MUSC Health; Dr. Alain Litwin, Health Sciences Center Rapid Innovation Task Force leader of Prisma Health; Thornton Kirby, CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association; and Matthew Roberts, Chair of Healthcare Practice of the Nexsen Pruet Law Firm.  The webinar will be hosted and moderated by Sam Konduros, CEO and President of SCBIO.  Participation is free and interested parties can register to participate at https://www.scbio.org/events/next-up-how-sc-healthcare-is-taking-on-covid-19.

    The 60-minute program is meant to provide business leaders, elected officials and key stakeholders of South Carolina’s life sciences industry with a real-time status of the state’s healthcare climate two-plus months into the global COVID-19 pandemic, unique responses to this modern day plague, and how the public healthcare crisis has impacted both current and future delivery of healthcare.  The panelists will also address a realistic path forward as South Carolina begins the move to return to normalcy while still navigating a virus with no clear endpoint.

    “Our goal is to identify and discuss what South Carolina healthcare has done well, such as widespread implementation of telehealth, advances in equipment and testing, and partnering with other players and states to make a difference, while also addressing the state’s and nation’s challenges including limitations in our rural health systems, and a surprising level of dependence on drugs and equipment from foreign countries,” noted SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros.

    “The panelists will also share their thoughts on important lessons learned, innovation opportunities and strategies for the future – identifying ways for organizations and the healthcare industry in SC to come together to collectively solve problems and improve treatment and quality of life for all South Carolinians,” he added.

    SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven public/private economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state.  The industry has an $11.4 billion annual economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 600 firms directly involved and 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products.  The state-wide nonprofit has offices in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, and represents companies in the advanced medicines, medical devices, equipment, diagnostics, IT, and healthcare outcome industries.  As the official state affiliate of BIO, PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members include hundreds of academic institutions, biotech companies, medtech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups.

    For additional information on SCBIO, visit www.SCBIO.org.

     

     

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Clemson targets fix for mask shortage see more

    (Courtesy, Paul Alongi, Clemson College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences)

    Melinda Harman of Clemson University is volunteering her time to explore how hospitals could wash and sanitize medical masks without having to ship them elsewhere or buy an expensive piece of equipment.

    A device that Harman designed to hold multiple N95 masks is central to her idea. It would help ensure the masks maintain their shape while being washed so that they continue to fit securely around the mouth and nose, said Harman, an associate professor of bioengineering and director of Clemson University’s Medical Device Recycling and Reprocessing program, or GreenMD. 

     Melinda Harman, right, works with GreenMD students at the Clemson University Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus, or CUBEInC.

    The masks help prevent healthcare workers from inhaling the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and have been in short supply since the pandemic began.

    As part of her work, Harman said she has engaged three leading healthcare companies that offer expertise in detergents and decontamination. She is testing different kinds of detergents to find the best solution for cleaning mucus and proteins from the masks. 

    The detergents are commercially available and already used by hospitals to clean other types of medical equipment.

    Harman said that her goal is “to validate a cleaning process that is compatible with existing capabilities and equipment commonly available at hospitals in South Carolina and worldwide.”

    The challenge is “to avoid interfering with mask performance, while effectively cleaning the masks without degrading their filtering capacity,” she said.

    Harman added, “Working with innovative industry partners is a considerable advantage, with everyone on the team willing to contribute a potential solution. They are providing reliable products that are already proven to meet routine reprocessing challenges in healthcare delivery.”

    Harman said one of the advantages to her approach is that many hospitals already have the ability to clean medical equipment, even if they aren’t yet applying it to the masks. That means hospitals wouldn’t need to buy any capital equipment, she said.

    Further, the masks would stay at the hospital, reducing travel time, the risk of spreading contamination outside of the hospital and the additional burden on an already-stressed logistics system, Harman said.

    “The technology I’m working on is meant to be used broadly, compatible with existing reprocessing practices that are already in hospitals,” Harman said. “It’s intended for rapid deployment in health care settings, and it’s meant to be compatible with any sterilization system.” 

    Harman added, “Cleaning masks before sterilization enables more masks to be reused Right now, guidelines for sterilization require N95 masks to be inspected and discarded if they are ‘soiled.’ My idea is to reliably clean masks to remove both the visible and ‘invisible’ soils, making the entire reuse process safer.”

    Martine LaBerge, chair of the Department of Bioengineering, said that Harman is well qualified to lead the work.

    Harman has conducted extensive research into reuse and reprocessing of medical equipment. As director of GreenMD,  she engages students in industry-driven research targeting healthcare needs in South Carolina and broader global health challenges. GreenMD is the nation’s only engineering-focused program for medical device design targeted for reprocessing and reuse.

    “Dr. Harman has built a career on developing innovative ways to reprocess and reuse medical equipment that is normally disposable, which uniquely positions her to have a global impact,” LaBerge said. “I thank her for her service to South Carolina, the nation and the globe as we join together in the face of the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19.”

    Harman said that if her idea works, used masks would be sent to central sterilization facilities within hospitals. The device she designed would hold the masks while they are cleaned.  After cleaning, the masks would go through a separate sterilization process to get rid of any lingering microorganisms, including coronavirus.

    The mask-holder that Harman designed could be 3D-printed, she said. However, she is focusing on more rapid manufacturing approaches using common acrylic materials. The technology could be readily adapted in hospitals from South Carolina to India, Harman said.

    She recently disclosed the technology to the Clemson University Research Foundation, setting it on the path to commercialization and raising the potential for widespread use.

     Harman said what’s been most interesting to her is that her previous work with resource-poor countries has come home to the United States, with disrupted supply chains and inadequate supplies at the point of need.

     “That’s exactly the situation we’ve been working on with other countries,” Harman said. “For me that’s just been a startling change. It’s been amazing to see how many people have become interested in the topic of safe and sustainable reuse and how many unique solutions they come up with. I hope that creative energy continues, because it can solve a lot of global health problems.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    mPact disinfectants a new weapon against COVID-19 see more

    (Compliments of Upstate Business Journal)

    The father-and-son team behind Holly Oak Chemical, Jim and James Cashion, try their best not to use too many scientific terms when they explain what they do.

    But sometimes it slips out anyway.

    “We’re talking about covalent bonds here,” said Jim Cashion, the father in the duo.

    “Which is basically like super glue,” his son James Cashion is quick to clarify. “You know, if you want to think of it in simpler terms.”

    To put it even more simply, the Cashions are in the business of disinfectant — not the kind most are familiar with, like soap or hand sanitizer. Instead, they manufacture two products under the brand name mPact, which are made up of chemicals that almost everyone has come in contact with, but few people are aware of.

    The active ingredients in mPact products — 3 (trihydroxysilyl) propyldimethyl octadecyl ammonium chloride — are not new to the market. Typically they’ve been used to spray on items like shoes or clothing that are shipped overseas, protecting them from bacteria and fungi that could cause them to fall apart. If you’ve unpacked a fresh pair of Nike sneakers, you’ve come in contact with those chemicals.

    Environmentally friendly and EPA-registered, the disinfectant products are now being highlighted as a key weapon in the fight against the coronavirus. Unlike hand sanitizer, for instance, which evaporates within minutes, these chemicals have a unique ability to bond to surfaces, including human skin. Through covalent bonding, the disinfectant remains on the surface for up to 10 days, acting as a shield against viruses, bacteria and fungal infestations.

    “The only way to get it off immediately is to sand it off or paint over it,” Jim Cashion said.

    With widespread fear of infection unlikely to wane in the immediate future, the Cashions are advocating these chemicals as crucial for businesses where crowds are inherent, such as restaurants or move theaters, as well as for mass transit in general.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Okra Medical donates face masks to 8 hospitals see more

    Okra Medical, a life sciences start-up company based on Johns Island, South Carolina, donated nearly 100,000 healthcare face masks to eight hospitals and one pediatric group serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the masks are smaller in size to benefit children and young adults.

    “Like many in America, the coronavirus brought our business to a standstill,” said Marshall Hartmann, CEO, Okra Medical. “We redirected our laboratory efforts to securing medical supplies to both help fund our payroll and to give back to our community.”

    Okra Medical had planned to launch the company’s new pharmaceutical drug destroyer, SafeMedWaste in mid-March. Then COVID-19 hit. The leadership team started looking for ways to leverage their international relationships to support the company and the community. They landed on securing PPE for the healthcare industry.

    “We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the waves of donations received from the Charleston community. Most donors have said that they don’t need or want any thanks, they just want to help in any way they can, and assisting them by providing an avenue to receive has been an honor. As we try to stay focused and rise to the strategic challenges we’re all being faced with, the impact these donations are having, on both a personal and national level, is incredible.” Jennifer Simon, MUSC.

    MUSC is one of eight hospitals benefiting from Okra Medical’s donations. The full list is:

    • Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
    • Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Charleston, SC
    • Coastal Pediatric Associates, North Charleston, SC
    • Prisma Health, Greenville, SC
    • Shriners Hospital for Children, Greenville, SC
    • Conway Medical Center, Conway, SC
    • WakeMed Children’s Hospital, Raleigh, NC
    • Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
    • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital, Pittsburg, PA

    “We are thankful for the health care heroes willing to serve at a time like this,” said Hartmann. “Giving back is the easy part. U.S. Senator Tim Scott’s Office and SCBIO made donating even easier by providing helpful guidance to match donors with organizations in need.”

    “The rapid response of Senator Tim Scott’s team allowed us to quickly get donation masks into the hands of people who needed them most,” said Justin Stas, Chief Technical Officer, Okra Medical. “We are very proud of the way our South Carolina community, from government to individuals, has come together during this difficult time.”

    SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven public/private economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has more than 675 firms, including Okra Medical, directly involved and 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products. The state-wide nonprofit represents companies in the advanced medicines, medical devices, equipment, diagnostics, IT, and healthcare outcome industries.

    “We continue to be humbled by the amazing and impactful response to this public health crisis by SCBIO stakeholders like Okra Medical. Their gracious donation of thousands of critically important pediatric healthcare face masks to help ensure the safety of children in hospital environments during this global pandemic is a great example of Okra’s culture of servant leadership combined with their business expertise and innovativeness. We’re very proud and grateful that they are a highly engaged member of our organization,” said Sam Konduros, President/CEO of SCBIO.

    A member of SCBIO, Okra Medical has developed and validated a patented product called SafeMedWaste that will simplify the way pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals, and individuals destroy and dispose of highly-addictive controlled substances like opioids. To learn more about the environmentally-friendly product, watch this video on the company website.

    About Okra Medical Inc.
    Okra Medical, Inc., headquartered in Johns Island, South Carolina, specializes in product development, manufacturing and strategic sourcing of controlled pharmaceutical substance disposal solutions. Founded in 2018, the Company’s mission is to improve public health. Its best-in-class suite of SafeMedWaste products use single formulas that are fully compliant with DEA regulations requiring non-retrievable destruction of controlled substances. Okra Medical is a strategic sourcing partner to hospitals, hospice facilities, law enforcement agencies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and veterinary care clinics. Visit www.okramedical.com.