COVID testing expands in workplace see more
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.
GGC Partnership Campus website to market for future growth see more
Courtesy of GSA Biz Wire
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) Foundation, a nonprofit 501c3 established to serve as the philanthropic arm supporting the mission of the Greenwood Genetic Center, is proud to announce the launch of a new website highlighting their GGC Partnership Campus at http://partnershipcampus.com/.
The GGC Partnership Campus will serve as both an anchor of Greenwood’s emerging Medical Innovation District and as a vital, connected hub within the broader Greenwood community. The campus will become the location of choice for companies and organizations seeking a quality-of-life environment with a focus on promoting connections and collaboration.
The GGC Partnership Campus will provide a unique asset for the City of Greenwood while supporting GGC’s long-term goals for the delivery of clinical care, diagnostic testing, research advances, and educational initiatives.
In addition to the Greenwood Genetic Center, the campus currently includes The Upper Savannah Council of Governments, Carolina Health Center’s Children's Center, and the Clemson Center for Human Genetics’ Self Regional Hall.
The Clemson Center for Human Genetics’ (CCHG) presence on the campus enables Clemson’s growing genetics program to collaborate closely with the tradition of excellence in genetic services, testing, and research at GGC, combining basic science with clinical care. Last year, CCHG named internationally acclaimed geneticist, Dr. Trudy Mackay, as Director of CCHG. Dr. Mackay is building a team of researchers to advance the understanding of the fundamental principles by which genetic and environmental factors determine and predict both healthy traits and susceptibility to disease in humans. Together, the CCHG and GGC will strive to use new technologies and knowledge to develop treatments for genetic disorders.
The GGC Partnership Campus website features a streamlined modern design, improved functionality, and easy access to essential information to help individuals and companies looking to locate on the GGC Partnership Campus. The new comprehensive website offers campus information, relocation assistance, a facilities overview, news, and contact information.
About The Greenwood Genetic Center Foundation
The GGC Foundation is a nonprofit 501c3 established to serve as the philanthropic arm supporting the Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) in their work of serving families in the fight against genetic diseases, birth defects and autism. GGC has provided over 45 years of compassionate clinical care, unparalleled diagnostic lab services, globally-renowned research discoveries, and innovative educational programs. Visit ggc.org/foundation.
Greenwood Genetic Center, MUSC affiliate to improve patient access to innovations in genetic servicesMUSC partners with Greenwood Genetic Center see more
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have signed an affiliation agreement with the goal of providing patients across South Carolina with accessible, high-quality, coordinated and cost-effective genetic services through a collaborative approach to providing medical care. The two entities have worked together informally on clinical consultations, provider education and research for more than a decade. This affiliation seeks to formalize and expand the depth and breadth of the relationship. According to MUSC, a partnership with the state’s most advanced and innovative genetic center was an easy choice.
“I live in Greenwood, and I’ve said for years that a lot people don’t understand what an absolute gem this center is,” said Charles Schulze, chairman of the MUSC Board of Trustees. “They’ve helped almost 100,000 families across the state make incredibly important decisions, unmasked difficult-to-diagnose conditions, and have been there for these families every step of the way when faced with good news, or not so good news.”
While there are any number of reasons people may want to learn more about how their genetics may affect their or their loved ones health, all patients want the same thing: high-quality care at the lowest cost and access to the latest technologies, diagnostics and research related to their genetic stories. In the interest of better serving these needs, the initial goals of the partnership include:
- Increasing access to clinical genetic services for MUSC patients and all South Carolinians
- Optimizing the patient journey to improve wait times for appointments and consultations
- Sharing critical resources and expertise where possible to lower costs
- Pursuing workforce development, research, clinical trials and treatment collaborations.
Nearly every child in South Carolina who was diagnosed with a genetic birth defect, developmental delay or other hereditary disorder has already been referred to GGC, due to the center’s expertise with rare conditions and commitment to new technologies and diagnostics. GGC, a nonprofit institute centered on research, clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing and educational programs and resources, is focused on compassionate patient care and innovative scientific advancement.
About Greenwood Genetic Center
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC), founded in 1974, is a nonprofit organization advancing the field of medical genetics and caring for families impacted by genetic disease and birth defects. At its home campus in Greenwood, South Carolina, a talented team of physicians and scientists provides clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs and resources, and research in the field of medical genetics. GGC’s faculty and staff are committed to the goal of developing preventive and curative therapies for the individuals and families they serve. GGC extends its reach as a resource to all residents of South Carolina with satellite offices in Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Greenville. For more information about GGC please visit www.ggc.org.
Greenwood, South Carolina's globally recognized genetics center is further investing... see more
Greenwood Genetic Center has invested more than $1.75 million in laboratory equipment and a new on-site aquaculture facility that the organization says is the largest zebrafish facility in the state.
The new equipment includes a NovaSeq DNA sequencing system and a confocal microscopy system. The Illumina NovaSeq 6000 System offers high-throughput sequencing across a broad range of applications. The NovaSeq also meets the research needs of both the center and the Clemson Center for Human Genetics. Read the full news release here.