Exosomes have been called the rising star of drug delivery see more
Terri Bruce happened to be working on experiments about how the body’s cells communicate when her brother learned he had a brain tumor. Greg Foster died in January 2019, within months of Bruce starting a company whose work could soon help save other cancer patients.
“When he got sick, I started looking at how exosomes could be used in early cancer diagnostics,” the Clemson University researcher and entrepreneur says. “Had we caught it a little bit earlier, he may have been able to receive treatment that might have saved his life.”
So … what is an exosome?
For 40-odd years, scientists considered exosomes waste materials. Miro Pastrnak, Bruce’s partner in their startup, Victory ExoFibres, describes them as “sneeze droplets for cells.” Bruce calls exosomes “messages in oil balls,” which carry disease markers in common body fluids. Unlike cell-free DNA or proteins that degrade rapidly, exosomes’ lipid casings protect those markers in biofluid.
The trick is to efficiently isolate them. The company uses patented synthetic fibers to do just that.
Requiring less than a milliliter of bodily fluid, each isolation container contains a tube that looks like a golf tee. Inside that tube is the patented fiber that isolates the exosomes. When spun in a lab centrifuge, the exosomes are now ready to give up their secrets.
The process takes about 15 minutes. Until now, extracting these molecular spies could take up to four hours, Bruce and Pastrnak say.
“It’s like trying to pick peas out of your mom’s vegetable soup, that you don’t want to eat. There’s a lot of stuff in that veggie soup, but to look at those peas specifically you’ve got to get them out of the veggie soup,” Bruce says.
The Clemson assistant research professor, who earned her doctorate in biological sciences from there in 2009 after working as a chemical engineer for the likes of Duracell and Lockwood Greene, explains the product’s multiple benefits.
Typically, testing for or, worse, diagnosing cancer is invasive, Bruce says: “You often have to go into an operating room or sterile area to get this done.” That’s why Bruce and Pastrnak refer to Victory ExoFibres’ product as a liquid biopsy, which, she says, is also “just generally more pleasant for the patient.”
Each kit holds 50 exosome-isolation tubes. For each box, the target price will fall between $500 and $700 for the product, which Pastrnak expects to hit the research-supplies market in the next few months.
Ultimately, the company hopes to include exosome-based clinical diagnostics, but that requires FDA approval, a process that can cost more than $10 million. Once the company validates the product in the market, Pastrnak says fundraising will begin in earnest.
Victory ExoFibres won an early backer, the South Carolina Research Authority, which in January accepted the company as a member. That opens the door to SCRA’s Resource Partner Network and potential investments from authority affiliate, SC Launch Inc.
“The work that Victory ExoFibres is doing is critical to the future of health care,” SCRA program manager Jeannine Briggman Rogers says. “Any advancement in the accuracy, speed and clarity of diagnostic testing that improves the quality of patient care benefits everyone.”
Bruce credits her brother with infusing his experience as a founder of two tech startups, an executive at Turner Broadcasting System and as a venture capitalist, into her scientific-cum-corporate enterprise.
Foster died at 45 in their native Atlanta. Catching brain and ovarian and other such cancers can result in higher remission rates, Bruce says. That, and her brother’s encouragement, continue to drive and inspire her.
“I’m going to keep going, keep going,” she says. “Those are discussions that my brother and I used to have and that’s one thing I really miss about him.”
What are Exosomes?
“Exosomes are a perfect target for rapid diagnostics and liquid biopsy,” the company says, explaining that they are formed from the plasma membrane of cells:
They contain the same membrane proteins as the host cell.
These proteins are “fingerprints” that can be used as disease biomarkers in diagnostics.
They are cellular couriers that genetic information between cells.
Virtually every cell type in the body releases these biomolecules.
Exosomes have been called “the rising star in drug delivery.”
Life sciences firm seeking to add hundreds of new employees see more
Premier Medical Laboratory Services, has recently reported a rapid increase in medical testing demands coming to their laboratory – the amount of COVID-19 tests alone being processed at their Greenville, SC facility has jumped 250% in the last two weeks. Much of this is due to the Omicron variant, which first made landfall in the US at the beginning of December and is now the dominant strain of the virus in the nation. With this influx of tests poses an immediate need for hundreds of Upstate employees to be hired at the medical laboratory.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve been proactive in fulfilling our staffing needs,” said Kevin Murdock, CEO and Founder of Premier Medical Laboratory Services. “To ensure that we continue to properly meet testing demands amid this new surge, we are looking to vastly expand our team and to provide jobs in the community.”
PMLS is a CLIA and COLA certified laboratory. They are the choice processing lab for Health and Human Services testing sites, and the trusted COVID-19 management partner for professional sports teams, schools, colleges, large corporations, and health departments across the nation. With an expanding team, they are inviting members of the Upstate community to join them in providing vital services and information, helping to battle COVID-19 and its new variants and to improve the future of healthcare with advanced medical diagnostics. Currently, the lab is looking to fill the following positions:
Lab Data Entry Clerk
- NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED
- Job duties include entering patient information into a computer system, scanning barcodes, and helping with any other lab assistant needs
- Protective gear and all training are provided by the lab
Job Type: Part-Time; Pay: $15 per hour
Medical Laboratory Technician
Responsible for performing medical tests in the Molecular Lab. Does not need to be certified if a degree in Chemistry or Biology have been attained.
- Collect and organize blood, tissue, and other bodily fluid samples from patients
- Prepare samples for routine testing and analysis
- Properly record results for further analysis and easy reference
- Monitor inventory samples and supplies
- Maintain a clean work environment
- You must have experience as a Medical Technologist (ASCP Certificate that is CURRENT is a plus!)
- BS in Biology or Chemistry is also helpful
- Familiarity with common medical terminology
- Experience in a laboratory setting
- Strong organizational skills
Job Type: Full-time; Pay: $18-$22 per hour
- ***MUST HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH MANUAL EXTRACTION PROCESSES***
- Has earned a bachelor's degree in a chemical, physical or biological science or medical technology from an accredited institution
- Has at least 2 years of current laboratory experience, in moderate complexity testing (Chemistry, Hematology, Urinalysis)
- Has 2 years of laboratory training or experience in high complexity testing (Allergy and/or Molecular)
Job Type: Full-time; Pay: $24-$28/hr
All positions located in Greenville, SC. Please email: HR@DIVMEDINC.COM to apply. For more information, please visit www.PreMedInc.com or call 1.866.800.5470.
ABOUT PREMIER MEDICAL LABORATORY SERVICES
Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS), based in Greenville, South Carolina, is an advanced molecular diagnostics lab fully certified by top laboratory accrediting organizations, including CLIA and COLA. With the most advanced laboratory information systems (LIS) easy to read one-page test result reports are generated with higher accuracy and a customizable report for each client. PMLS prides itself on having some of the most rapid turnaround times for testing results in the industry. Their expansive testing menu includes Pharmacogenomics, COVID-19 testing, Advanced Cardiovascular Testing, Diabetes, Women's Wellness panels, Allergen Specific Ige Blood Testing, Toxicology, and a first of its kind predictive genetic test for type II diabetes, DIABETESPredict. For more information, please visit www.PreMedInc.com.
GSSM Honors Dr. Delphine Dean of Clemson University with 2021 Randall M. La Cross Distinguished Research Leadership AwardDr. Delphine Dean of Clemson honored see more
The Governor’s School for Science + Mathematics (GSSM) was pleased to award the Fall 2021 Randall M. La Cross Distinguished Leadership Award to Dr. Delphine Dean of Clemson University at the 33rd Annual Research Colloquium.
Dr. Delphine Dean is the Rob and Jane Lindsay Family Innovation Professor of Bioengineering at Clemson University. Dr. Dean earned her B.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She joined the Clemson University faculty in 2007. She is a member of the American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, Materials Research Society, Biomedical Engineering Society, Society for Biomaterials, American Society for Engineering Education, the Orthopaedics Research Society, and is one of the newest members of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows. Dr. Dean is a recipient of the Class of ’39 Award for Excellence from Clemson University.
Dr. Dean’s Multiscale Bioelectromechanics Lab at Clemson University studies the mechanics and interactions of biological systems at the nano-to micro-scale using techniques like atomic force microscopy and mathematical modeling. Her research focus includes the nanostructure of cardiovascular cells and tissues, the effects of ionizing radiation, and the development of novel medical devices. These innovations include saliva-based blood glucose strips that can be read by a smartphone application and a biodegradable marker for tumor localization that reduces the cost of breast cancer surgery.
Many of the projects led by Dr. Dean address needs in under-resourced communities around the world – a commitment aligned with that of GSSM’s mission to develop “ethical leaders” prepared to take on “the world’s most significant issues.” These efforts include a breast pump with a filter to inactivate HIV in breast milk, basket-woven braces for neck injuries that can be produced and sold by local women in Tanzania, and a low-cost patient monitor that a hand crank can power.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Dean led the establishment of the certified clinical diagnostic Research and Education in Disease Diagnosis and Intervention lab at Clemson, which is key to Clemson’s COVID-19 testing strategy, as well as providing testing for their surrounding community. She also led the Clemson COVID Challenge, an undergraduate research, and design challenge to address issues related to the pandemic.
A core element of Dr. Dean’s work has been to engage students below the graduate school level with challenging and meaningful projects. Dr. Dean has provided mentored research & inquiry experience to over a dozen GSSM students since 2008 and over 150 Clemson undergraduates through Clemson’s Creative Inquiry program. Current student projects include designing medical devices for the developing world, collaborating on biomedical engineering innovation with students in Tanzania, testing radiation for biomedical applications, using magnetic nanoparticles to reduce the need for arterial stent implants, and applying human factors engineering to medical device design.
The Randall M. La Cross Distinguished Research Leadership Award is presented to Dr. Dean by Dr. Tyler Harvey. Dr. Harvey is a GSSM Class of 2011 graduate. As a rising senior at GSSM, he conducted his mentored research & inquiry experience at Clemson University under Dr. Dean. He returned to Clemson, earning his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. while continuing research with Dr. Dean. Dr. Harvey is currently a Lecturer in Bioengineering at Clemson University and has contributed to the development of GSSM Outreach & STEM Foundations programs.
PMLS picks new Chief Commercial Officer for fast-growing organization see more
Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS) is announcing today Jeff Schmalz as their new Chief Commercial Officer. At PMLS, Jeff will be focusing on the major disciplines impacting lab growth including partnerships, product development, clinical outreach, sales infrastructure, customer service and marketing. With 35 years of experience in multiple healthcare organizations, he brings extensive knowledge in the diagnostics and reference lab markets.
In his latest role, he led the segment marketing and business development team responsible for integrating specialty labs, technology, and test launches that contributed to several hundred million in additional revenue growth. Jeff also oversaw the launching, branding, and commercializing of Lab Developed Tests (LTDS) over a period of 15 years for 25 test classes resulting in over $400M per year in revenue. He has founded, developed, and launched international partnerships to carry out his sales initiatives and maximize overall market share.
“I chose to work at Premier Medical Laboratory Services because they’re an innovative and nimble company with all of the components in place to make them a national leading specialty lab,” said Jeff Schmalz. “They lead with a forward-thinking approach to unmet needs within the healthcare industry and continually build on their capabilities to bring the most advanced medical diagnostics services for better patient outcomes…and that’s something I want to be a part of and advance forward.”
As a graduate and scholarship athlete from the University of Maryland, Jeff pursued an executive management MBA curriculum from the Kellogg School of Management. Since then, he has served as a board member for the Biomedical Marketing Association and successfully launched products at Abbot, Chiron, LabCorp, Digene, Bayer and Qiagen. He managed a team of 53 segment leaders, product managers, and marketing communication strategists by positive motivation, leading by example, and empowering them to make decisions and take initiative.
“We are at an integral phase in our growth here at Premier Medical Laboratory Services as a top lab with the mission to bring the most advanced diagnostics to our nation,” said Kevin Murdock, CEO and Founder of PMLS. “The level of talent and experience that Jeff Schmalz possesses will help us tremendously in fulfilling our vision of improving patient lives.”
ABOUT PREMIER MEDICAL LABORATORY SERVICES
Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS), based in Greenville, South Carolina, is an advanced molecular diagnostics lab fully certified by top laboratory accrediting organizations, including CLIA and COLA. With the most advanced laboratory information systems (LIS) easy to read one-page test result reports are generated with higher accuracy and a customizable report for each client. PMLS prides itself on having some of the most rapid turnaround times for testing results in the industry. Their expansive testing menu includes Pharmacogenomics, COVID-19 testing, Advanced Cardiovascular Testing, Diabetes, Women's Wellness panels, Allergen Specific Ige Blood Testing, Toxicology, and a first of its kind predictive genetic test for type II diabetes, DIABETESPredict. For more information, please visit www.PreMedInc.com
Prisma aligns with Siemens Healthineers see more
Prisma Health is entering a 10-year partnership with German technology company Siemens to become more efficient and improve patient care, the companies announced June 22.
Prisma staff members will work with technology experts from the Siemens Healthineers division to evaluate how the company uses technology to treat patients, including the use of artificial intelligence.
Prisma Health, the state’s largest hospital system, needs to keep improving how it works as the challenges of health care, from rising costs to keeping a trained workforce, keep mounting, Prisma Health CEO Mark O’Halla said.
“We have to get better — better outcomes and cheaper,” O’Halla said.
One of the roles that technology can play is to make work more efficient for the staff, both through better systems and training, said Dave Pacitti, president for the Americas of Siemens Healthineers, the health care tech portion of the German engineering giant.
That should bring more time for clinical staff to treat patients, he said.
No financial terms of the 10-year partnership were disclosed, but Pacitti said it is his company’s largest partnership with a health care provider.
Artificial intelligence will be used to study how Prisma Health is treating patients by analyzing the collected data with no names of patients attached, O’Halla said.
AI also will be able to help care for individual patients, Pacitti said. One example: an AI system can work in the background as a doctor or other staff members examine computer images from a scan, looking to highlight areas on the image that that need more scrutiny.
The deal will include adding more modern diagnostic equipment from Siemens and making sure that the systems are deployed around the state in the most efficient way possible, O’Halla said.
For Siemens, the deal will provide direct clinical feedback on how its systems work in medical offices.
Prisma Health operates 18 hospitals, including the former Palmetto Health system in the Midlands. Headquartered in Greenville, it employs more than 30,000 staff members.
KIYATEC Advancing Functional Ex Vivo 3D Cell Culture Models that Reveal Response Dynamics to Immuno-Oncology DrugsKey evidence to be presented at AACR 2020 see more
KIYATEC, Inc. today announced that it will present data at the 2020 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting, June 22-24, revealing how its 3D cell culture models characterize ex vivo tumor response and immunoreactivity to immune checkpoint inhibitors (i.e. PD-1, PD-L1 inhibitors) in solid tumors. These emerging capabilities address a significant unmet need in both preclinical drug development and clinical decision-making in oncology.
PD-1/L1 inhibitors have experienced meteoric growth over the last decade, offering hope to hundreds of thousands of cancer patients every year in the US alone. However, typically no more than 25-30% of eligible cancer patients who receive PD-1/L1 inhibitors actually respond to them. Given that the direct costs associated with PD-1/L1 therapy can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient, KIYATEC believes that pre-treatment, patient-specific PD-1/L1 response prediction could one day offer clinicians, patients and payers a more objective basis for determining PD-1/L1 inhibitor patient eligibility vs. today’s commonly used population-based biomarkers.
Evidence presented by KIYATEC at AACR 2020 will highlight findings of the company’s ability to detect dose-dependent response to checkpoint blockade and corresponding correlation with immune cell activation in high-throughput ex vivo 3D tumor spheroid models. KIYATEC believes these recent advances may represent key building blocks toward the eventual development and validation of clinical assays capable of accurate pre-treatment, patient-specific prediction of response to immuno-oncology drugs.
“We’re constantly innovating and expanding the capabilities of our 3D cell culture technologies to reduce the cost and risk of preclinical drug development for our immuno-oncology customers,” said Matthew Gevaert, CEO of KIYATEC. “As we continue to make these advances in immuno-oncology drug response on higher-throughput platforms, we can begin to envision a time when such capability would inform clinical decision-making for cancer patients as well.”
KIYATEC’s poster presentations at AACR 2020 are as follows:
- Abstract: 7397 / Poster: 315 / Session: 3D & Tissue Recombinant Models / June 22-24
Title: PARP inhibition in combination with pembrolizumab enhances cytotoxicity in ovarian cancer patient-derived 3D spheroids
- Abstract: 7132 / Poster: 2244 / Session: Immune Checkpoints 2 / June 22-24
About KIYATEC, Inc.
KIYATEC leverages its proprietary ex vivo 3D cell culture technology platforms to accurately model and predict response to approved and investigational cancer drugs targeting a spectrum of solid tumors. 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. 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. To learn more about KIYATEC, visit www.kiyatec.com.
South Carolina life sciences gets another huge boost with BD's $150 million investment in Sumter see more
Medical technology company creating 125 new jobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. - BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), a leading global medical technology company, today announced a $150 million investment in its existing Sumter County manufacturing facility. The company is projected to create an additional 125 new jobs over the next several years.
Employing more than 65,000 associates worldwide, BD is one of the world's largest medical technology companies and supports health care providers in more than 190 countries. BD's Sumter County facility has been in operation since 1970, manufacturing blood collection devices that are critical to the health care industry.
Located at 1575 Airport Road in Sumter, S.C., BD's Sumter facility is actively hiring for the new positions, and interested applicants should visit www.bd.com/careers for more information.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project, as well as a $600,000 Set Aside grant to assist with the costs of road work and site preparation.
"For nearly 50 years, BD's Sumter facility has consistently delivered superior quality products, vital for our customers and their patients, through a talented and engaged workforce. We would like to thank TheLINK economic development alliance, Sumter Economic Development, the City of Sumter, Sumter County and the S.C. Department of Commerce for their continued support of BD and our employees as we continue to invest in the facility. We look forward to the ongoing success of our BD Sumter manufacturing team as they continue to advance the world of health." -BD Executive Vice President of Global Operations and Chief Supply Chain Officer Jim Borzi
"After opening in our state more than 40 years ago, we're thrilled that BD continues to grow and succeed here. This announcement once again demonstrates that South Carolina is a place where medical technology companies want to do business, and we welcome this new $150 million investment." -Gov. Henry McMaster
"Not only does our state excel in advanced manufacturing, we're also increasingly a top choice for companies in the life sciences sector. BD has been a strong member of Team South Carolina for decades, and we congratulate them on their ongoing success." -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
"BD has been a leading employer in this county since opening its doors in 1970. We are grateful for their continued investment in our community and our people." -Sumter County Council Chairman James McCain
"We have long-enjoyed BD as a key component in the fabric of our industrial portfolio. This investment demonstrates their trust in our leadership, their commitment to the success of their business and their belief in our ability to regenerate the talent needed to produce the quality of goods for which BD is known." -Sumter Economic Development Chairman Greg Thompson
FIVE FAST FACTS
- BD is investing in its existing Sumter County manufacturing facility.
- $150 million investment to create 125 new jobs.
- Employing more than 65,000 associates worldwide, BD is one of the largest medical technology companies in the world and supports health care providers in more than 190 countries.
- Located at 1575 Airport Road in Sumter, S.C., BD's facility manufactures blood collection devices for the health care industry.
BD is actively hiring for the new positions, and interested applicants should visit www.bd.com/careers for more information.
BD is one of the largest global medical technology companies in the world and is advancing the world of health by improving medical discovery, diagnostics and the delivery of care. The company supports the heroes on the frontlines of health care by developing innovative technology, services and solutions that help advance both clinical therapy for patients and clinical process for health care providers. BD and its 65,000 employees have a passion and commitment to help improve patient outcomes, improve the safety and efficiency of clinicians' care delivery process, enable laboratory scientists to better diagnose disease and advance researchers' capabilities to develop the next generation of diagnostics and therapeutics. BD has a presence in virtually every country and partners with organizations around the world to address some of the most challenging global health issues. By working in close collaboration with customers, BD can help enhance outcomes, lower costs, increase efficiencies, improve safety and expand access to health care. In 2017, BD welcomed C. R. Bard and its products into the BD family. For more information on BD, please visit www.bd.com.