life sciences

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    SCBIO 2019 Conference Draws Speakers, Takes Center Stage October 29-31 see more

    Conference registrations soar with sell-out expected; CEOs and top industry leaders from 30 states and countries expected in Greenville for strategic partnership development, industry insights

     

    SOUTH CAROLINA – September 11, 2019Johnson & Johnson Innovation Leader Michal Preminger will join more than 40 additional national speakers at SCBIO 2019 – the annual conference bringing top leaders and executives from life sciences organizations across the state and nation to South Carolina October 29-31.

    Following an October 29 welcome reception showcasing downtown Greenville, Ms. Preminger will address an expected sold-out conference at the Hyatt Regency with a keynote presentation entitled “Innovation for a Better Tomorrow” as the main program gets underway the morning of October 30.  Her presentation will be followed by a high-powered panel comprised of regional healthcare executives entitled “Optimizing the Future of Healthcare in SC and Beyond.” 

    Among other featured Conference programs are EY’sNextWave Wellness:  An Interactive View of the Future of Our Industry”, and an address by South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette entitled “South Carolina:  Just Right for Life Sciences.”  Clemson University President Jim Clements headlines Day 2 with an address entitled “The Power of Partnerships in Fueling Life Sciences”, while Medtronic global executive Christian Howell will address “Driving Value-Based Care Through Collaboration"

    Scores of top industry chief executives, leaders in government and higher education, biotechnology and pharma executives, clinicians and researchers, and industry supporters from across America have already registered to attend SCBIO 2019, with registration nearly doubling the record-setting pace of 2018.  Other committed speakers and panelists include IQVIA Institute of Health Data Science SVP Murray Aitken, Innova Therapeutics CEO and Founder Robert Ryan, ChartSpan CEO & Founder Jon-MIchial Carter, Firststring Research President Dr. Gautam Ghatnekar, Nephron Pharmaceuticals CEO Lou Kennedy, USC President (Ret.) Harris Pastides, PhRMA Senior Regional Director Thomas Hardaway and numerous others.  More than 20 programs will be featured over two days.

    Themed “Ignite The Future!”, the 2+ day conference draws attendees from across America for networking, innovation updates, opportunity discovery, partnership making and strategic discussion.  Committed attendees include officials across a broad spectrum of life sciences industries including medical devices, bio manufacturing, drug discovery, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and testing, digital health and health IT, bio-ag and more.  Space is limited and advance registration is still available at https://www.scbio.org/cpages/register-now-for-scbio-2019.

    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 670 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. 

    SCBIO 2019 kicks off Tuesday evening October 29 with a Grand Opening Reception for conference registrants, speakers and sponsors at Greenville’s ONE Center, presented by Prisma Health.  Wednesday will feature a complete day of sessions beginning at breakfast and continuing through an evening reception presented by the Greenville Area Development Corp., Greenwood Partnership Alliance and City of Greenville.  The conference will conclude Thursday at lunchtime. 

    “Life sciences is a major driver of South Carolina’s economy, and this conference’s growth is testament to the industry’s surging impact, reach and rapidly rising economic significance in our state and region,” noted SCBIO President and CEO Sam Konduros. “Already accounting for thousands of highly-skilled jobs in the Palmetto State, this sector has tremendous growth potential, and we’re excited to showcase the top companies, research universities and leaders from across our state and country at SCBIO 2019.” 

    Among leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating in the conference are Nephron Pharmaceutical, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Ritedose Corporation, Rhythmlink, SoftBox Systems, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher 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 economic development entities including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, the Upstate SC Alliance, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Central Carolina Alliance, Economic Development Partnership and SiMT.

    As the official state affiliate of BIO -- the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology organizations – along with PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members include academic institutions, biotech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups whose members are leading the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products that transform how we heal, fuel and feed the world.  For additional information on SCBIO, visit www.SCBIO.org.

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    Two SC organizations have launched a new investment fund designed to boost health care innovation see more

    GREENVILLE, South Carolina — Two leading South Carolina organizations have launched a new investment fund designed to boost health care innovation in the state. The Clemson University Division of Research and the Health Sciences Center (HSC) at Prisma Health recently signed agreements to fund up to $200,000 per year in grants through the new Innovation Maturation Fund.

    The health care-focused grants are intended to advance the development and implementation of new medical initiatives, advance translational science, create job and educational opportunities, improve health care and drive economic growth in the region.

    “This is an important step to support health sciences research in our state,” said David Sudduth, vice president and chief operating officer of the Health Sciences Center at Prisma Health. “While we have a strong history of academic, research and innovation partnership in the Upstate through the Health Sciences Center, this is the first of what we hope will be many grant-making opportunities designed with our academic partners in order to support our community.”

    “Pairing Clemson University’s health research and bioengineering capabilities with Prisma Health’s industry-leading clinical environment provides an incredible opportunity for the development of medical technologies and initiatives that will improve health care for South Carolinians and many others,” said Tanju Karanfil, Clemson University vice president for research. “I am excited to see the ideas and impactful innovations that stem from this partnership.”

    The fund will be managed by the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF), which manages the process of moving Clemson’s hundreds of innovative technologies from the laboratory into commercial markets. CURF has awarded more than $870,000 in maturation funds to Clemson researchers across academic disciplines since the launch of a similar fund in 2014. Those funds have led to startup companies, new technologies available for license and follow-on research investments.

    The new Innovation Maturation Fund — launched in cooperation with the HSC and Prisma Health — is the first such fund targeted exclusively toward researchers in the health sciences.

    “We look forward to working with Prisma Health to leverage this fund to advance promising medical technologies from ideation through initial phases of translational product development,” said Chris Gesswein, executive director of CURF. “By identifying and targeting unmet clinical needs early in the research process, we have a wonderful opportunity to impact successful downstream commercialization of technologies developed and matured through this Innovation Maturation Fund.”

    Prisma Health clinicians, Clemson research faculty and graduate students are eligible for grant funds. Applications for the first round of grants will be accepted this fall. For more information, click here.

    Innovation Maturation Fund Partners

    The Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF) is an independent 501(c)3 organization and was created to support the Clemson University research enterprise, guiding Clemson researchers through the technology transfer process by identifying, protecting, and developing university intellectual property. CURF is committed to creating a sustainable model for research by connecting Clemson researchers to external organizations and identifying opportunities for research collaboration to feed back into Clemson University.

    The Health Sciences Center at Prisma Health is a collaboration between Prisma Health, Clemson University, Furman University and University of South Carolina. Located on the Greenville Memorial Medical Campus, this nationally recognized center seeks to bridge the gap between academics, research, clinical practice and health care transformation in a way that is innovative, inter-institutional, interprofessional and interdisciplinary. Regional community, education and business leaders also participate in the Health Sciences Center’s shared governance.

    Prisma Health, a not-for-profit health company, is committed to excellence in patient care, clinical research and teaching the next generation of medical professionals. Our organization – South Carolina’s largest private employer – was formed when Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health joined together in late 2017, officially becoming Prisma Health in January 2019. With 32,000 team members (including volunteers), 18 hospitals and over 300 physician practice sites, we serve more than 1.2 million patients annually – about a quarter of the state’s population. Our goal is to improve the health of all South Carolinians by enhancing clinical quality, the patient experience and access to affordable care. Our cardiovascular, neuroscience, OB/GYN, oncology and orthopedic programs attract patients throughout the region. Also noteworthy are our two renowned children’s hospitals, comprehensive diabetes care and extensive primary care network. Ultimately, we are dedicated to transforming the health care experience for our patients and families, our team members and guests by bringing our purpose to life: Inspire health. Serve with compassion. Be the difference. Learn more at PrismaHealth.org.

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    MUSC, Siemens Healthineers craft extraordinary agreement to advance healthcare see more

    The Medical University of South Carolina and Siemens Healthineers have formed a first-of-its-kind strategic partnership with the mutual goal of advancing the quality of health care in South Carolina. The partnership will capitalize on the coupling of MUSC’s clinical care, research and education expertise with Siemens Healthineers’ engineering innovations and workflow-improvement capabilities.

    “We are leveraging a longstanding relationship to reshape what we can both deliver in health care,” said David J. Cole, M.D., MUSC president. “Our nation is demanding that we address our fractured, costly and inefficient health care delivery systems. As the leading academic health sciences center in this state, MUSC’s purpose must be to drive the highest quality care for our patients at the lowest cost through commitment and partnerships. In discussions with the Siemens Healthineers team, we discovered a high degree of alignment with these concepts, and we are very excited to have them move forward with us. Our mutual goal is to not merely provide the best care possible for just our patients; we will define the new gold standard for others to follow.”

    Specifically, this new agreement will focus on driving performance excellence at MUSC and generating significant clinical and value-driven innovations in focused target areas including pediatrics, cardiovascular care, radiology, and neurosciences.

    “Ultimately, our goal is to enable health care providers to get better outcomes at lower cost. We will achieve that by empowering MUSC clinicians on this journey through four specific areas of focus – expanding precision medicine, transforming care delivery, improving the patient experience, and digitalizing health care,” said Dave Pacitti, president of North America for Siemens Healthineers. “These four core values of Siemens Healthineers are representative of the goals of our strategic relationship with MUSC, and we hope that the spirit of this flagship partnership will initiate a trend in value based care within the industry.”

     

    Read the entire article by clicking here.

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    USC sets record for research funding see more

    University of South Carolina faculty have again broken their previous record-high external funding by garnering $278.6 million in research and sponsored awards in fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019). FY2019 was the fifth consecutive year of record-breaking funding totals, beating the previous record of $258.1 million, set in fiscal year 2018, by 8 percent.

    UofSC Vice President for Research Prakash Nagarkatti said, “Sustained growth of this magnitude does not happen by accident. By making strategic investments in our exceptional scholars and our infrastructure, the University of South Carolina is building a research community characterized by innovation and excellence that has made and will continue to make an enormous positive impact on our state, nation and world. I am so honored to work with such outstanding faculty, students and staff, who continue to raise the bar year after year.”

    Vice President Nagarkatti credits strategic internal investments in research and infrastructure with helping to generate the growth that has increased research and sponsored awards totals for each of the past five years. The Advanced Support for Innovative Research Excellence, or ASPIRE program, provides an example of how internal programs that fund meritorious research and multi-user infrastructure generate strong returns on investment. Since its inception in 2012, ASPIRE has provided $16.1 million to fund 597 faculty and postdoctoral scholar research projects in subject areas from art to mathematics and from medicine to library science. Past ASPIRE recipients have garnered more than $171.2 million in subsequent extramural funding, including $71.8 million in funding that was directly attributable to groundwork laid with an ASPIRE award. This represents more than a four-fold direct return on investment.

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    USC, Nephron partner to improve safety through automation see more

    Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation has joined forces with the University of South Carolina's College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy to design and implement an automation process that significantly boosts production of pre-filled medication, reducing the physical burden on workers and increasing patient safety.

    Traditionally, pre-filled syringes are filled by hand in clean-room environments. In recent years, federal regulations governing sterile compounding have become more stringent and complex as a result of accidental contaminations.  The use of robots to compound prescription products exceeds those new federal guidelines and provides a more sterile environment with better accuracy and precision than traditional methods of compounding. 

    The research collaboration with Nephron will position UofSC to develop state-of-the-art sterile compounding methods benefiting hospitals throughout South Carolina and the nation.

    “Demand for pre-filled medication has exploded in recent years, and our company is responding to the market needs for affordable and accessible life-saving medications in pre-filled syringes,” said Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy. “We are excited to partner with innovative students and leading researchers from Engineering and Pharmacy at the University of South Carolina to meet the demands of hospitals and patients, and we look forward to working together for years to come.”

    To help Nephron meet the market demand, the College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy have finalized plans to build a fully functional sterile compounding lab at the McNAIR Aerospace Center. This fully functional, first-of-its-kind compounding suite will offer students the opportunity to learn and develop the techniques of sterile, robotic manufacturing processes for human drug compounding. 

    Between the College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy, well over a dozen undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students are involved in the project. Utilizing a state-of-the-art robot from UofSC corporate partner Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, as well as Process Simulate — a Siemens software package included in its $628 million gift to McNAIR Center and to the College of Engineering and Computing in 2017 — these students are learning skills that will immediately translate to increased job opportunities upon graduation.

    “This team is a unique collection of talents, not just from engineering but with advisers from the College of Pharmacy and partners from Office of Economic Engagement as well,” said Ramy Harik of the McNAIR Aerospace Center, who leads the project design team. “By bringing together a cross-disciplinary team, and constantly seeking feedback from Nephron engineers and pharmacists, our students are building a real-life application that, when completed, will be implemented in production. Particularly for our undergraduate students, this type of impactful research experience is invaluable.”

    The Nephron project is a continuation of an ongoing university partnership with the company. When Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. opened its manufacturing campus in West Columbia in 2015, proximity to the flagship research university was an important factor. Owned and operated by UofSC alumni Lou (’84) and Bill (’66) Kennedy, whose $30 million endowment created The Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center (KPIC) in the College of Pharmacy in 2010, Nephron has found success by meeting the increasing demand for pre-filled medications at medical facilities nationwide.

    “Our engagement with industry leaders like Nephron is key to helping our students gain important knowledge and experience while solving real-world problems,” said UofSC President Bob Caslen. “By tapping into our research expertise, our corporate partners can bring innovative products to market, which grows their businesses and the state’s economy. That ensures more opportunity for all South Carolinians and furthers our university system’s mission of service.”

    Nephron is a certified woman-owned business and one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical companies in the country.  In 2017, they added a $12.5 million, 36,000-square-foot expansion to its manufacturing facility so they would be strategic in meeting the U.S. drug shortages. By partnering with UofSC students and researchers, Nephron seeks to fully automate parts of the syringe-filling process.

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    Vikor Scientific names new CSO see more

    CHARLESTON, S.C. (PRWEB) AUGUST 07, 2019

    Bill W. Massey, Ph.D. will be joining Vikor Scientific™ as Chief Scientific Officer to provide scientific leadership for Vikor’s molecular diagnostic and therapeutic management services, lead Vikor’s clinical research efforts related to their strategic alliances in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries and continue to develop their model of personalized healthcare.

    "I am very excited to be joining Vikor Scientific at this crucial point in their growth and evolution. They have an incredible vision to step beyond the traditional model for clinical laboratory services and to become the premier provider of therapeutic management services. This transition to becoming a partner with providers and healthcare organizations in the delivery of optimal, personalized care is paradigm changing and will set the standard for coordinated diagnostics and collaborative care," said Dr. Massey.

    Dr. Massey is a world-renowned neuropharmacologist, pharmacogeneticist, life sciences professional, inventor and entrepreneur. Dr. Massey received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and subsequently an investigator at the Pritzker School of Medicine’s Drug Abuse Research Center at The University of Chicago. Dr. Massey holds long-standing adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (Associate Professor, Dept. of Pharmacology and Interdisciplinary Toxicology) and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (Clinical Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry).

    Dr. Massey has held leadership positions at Merck, Astra Merck, Quintiles, Scirex, Astra Zeneca, Scientific Commercialization, Litmus Molecular Design, SureGene, and GeneAlign. He has played a leadership role in placing 28 new drugs into human testing and 8 new drugs onto the market. Dr. Massey formerly held the Jack Martin, MD Research Professorship in Psychopharmacology at Vanderbilt University, where he conducted research into the genetics, biological basis and pharmacological treatment of schizophrenia and serious mental illness in collaboration with Dr. Herbert Y. Meltzer. Dr. Massey is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Feinberg School of Medicine’s Dept. of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Northwestern University where he continues his research collaboration with Dr. Meltzer.

    Dr. Massey has been a leader in the field of pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine for over two decades. Dr. Massey invented an easy-to-use combinatorial pharmacogenetic algorithm that makes clinical use of PGx practical for any physician and is currently patenting a direct-to-consumer product for weight loss.

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    Clinical trials are saving lives in South Carolina see more

    When he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2011, Jimmy Alexander wasn’t expected to live more than a year.

    So doctors enrolled him in a clinical trial of a new chemotherapy cocktail hoping it might make a difference.

    Eight years later, the Simpsonville man is still enjoying Clemson football and time with his family, including two daughters, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

    And now the program that helped Alexander is being expanded into the Midlands with an $8.2 million grant awarded Friday by the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Program, or NCORP.

    “People just don’t realize what clinicals may be able to do,” Alexander said. “They can be a lifesaver.”

    Clinical trials are conducted to determine whether a treatment works while offering patients a shot at experimental therapies that aren’t otherwise available through normal channels.

    They provide physicians with new weapons in the battle against cancer, said Dr. Larry Gluck, medical director of Prisma Health-Upstate’s Cancer Institute in Greenville, which was awarded the grant.

    “Because of our NCI designation and support,” he said, “we can offer hundreds of leading-edge clinical trials that can provide treatments to patients years before approval by the FDA for general use.”

    More than 300 clinical trials are underway at Prisma’s Cancer Institute at any time and the hospital has been awarded more than $30 million in NCI grants since 1995, according to Prisma, formerly Greenville Health System.

    “What we learn from one patient helps that patient – but also many many more,” said Dr. Jeff Giguere, a Prisma oncologist.

    “A unique aspect of research via the NCORP grant is that it interrogates every point on the cancer continuum from diagnosis, treatment, supportive care," he said, "as well as proactively evaluates cancer prevention and more effective and efficient ways of delivering cancer care.”

    The latest six-year grant will enable trials for lymphoma, leukemia and solid tumors to begin in the Midlands this fall. 

    “Our goal ... is to continue to serve our Upstate patients with strengthened options here and extend our reach and expertise to the legacy Palmetto Health institutions via Prisma Health,” said Giguere. “We hope to meet an unmet need for our state.”

    There was no guarantee when Alexander was enrolled in the trial that he would benefit from the drugs. But the 78-year-old said he would have participated anyway in case it would help others.

    “If whatever I am doing helps other people, I was glad to do it,” he said. “But here I am eight years later.”

    Alexander said his cancer is stable, thanks to a weekly infusion of a drug called Erbitux, which is provided through the trial.

    Fortunately, the retired engineer was able to live to see a great-granddaughter born seven months ago.

    “I’m doing pretty good. The only problem I have is old age,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m still around to play with her. It’s a great, great thing.”

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    Top Speakers Added for SCBIO 2019 Life Sciences Conference in Greenville October 29-31 see more

    Come Ignite the Future of South Carolina life sciences and join hundreds of industry executives, leaders in government and higher education, and life sciences providers and supporters from across America at SCBIO 2019... October 29-31 in Greenville, SC!

    SCBIO 2019 features 2+ days of incredible presentations, intensive networking, innovation updates, opportunity discovery, partnership making, industry trade show and strategic discussion.  SCBIO 2019 is a must-attend for America's most promising and prominent life sciences organizations! 

    Meet and hear such speakers at Michal Preminger, head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation for North America... Halle Tecco, founder of Natalist and digital health venture fund Rock Health... President Jim Clements of Clemson University... inspirational success story Dean Otto, whose very life was saved by contributions from the industry we share... and dozens more!

    Enjoy world-class accommodations at the Hyatt Regency Greenville... incredible receptions Tuesday (presented by Prisma Health System) and Wednesday (presented by the Greenwood Partnership, Greenville Area Development Corp. and City of Greenville) evenings... and leading-edge discussions on such topics as: 

         -  Turning Education & Research Into Cures & Companies
         -  Building the Life Sciences Workforce of Tomorrow
         -  Igniting & Investing in the Changing Future of Healthcare
         -  Life Sciences Economic Development:  How SC Will Win
         -  Opportunities & Innovations in Life Sciences
         -  Global Trends and Their Implications for You
         -  South Carolina Success Stories & The Leaders Behind Them

    Registration is now open!  Enjoy Early Bird registration and save $100 or more by booking right now. And secure your spot at our headquarters hotel with accommodations at Hyatt Regency Greenville at special rates while they last. 

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    Nephron, Clemson partner to meet hospital needs see more

    Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation is partnering with Clemson University to create a robotic solution for syringe-filling automation to enhance sterile manufacturing in the pharmaceutical production process and keep up with growing hospital demands.

    “We are excited about our new partnership with Clemson and we cannot wait to get started,” said Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy. “Working together with Clemson’s world-class researchers and engineers we can ensure that the pharmaceutical manufacturing process remains safe and we can deliver life-saving drugs to patients and hospitals across the country.”

    The university’s newest strategic partner is turning to Clemson to harness the power of technology for more efficient processes. To do so, Nephron is enlisting the expertise of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences professor and researcher Yue “Sophie” Wang and mechanical engineering doctoral student Brandon Delspina and mechanical engineering master’s student Yu “Gloria” Zhang.

    Their robotics research for syringe automation will support the Nephron 503B Outsourcing Facility, a cGMP manufacturer providing sterile, pre-filled medications to address persistent drug shortages in hospitals and medical facilities across America.

    Based in West Columbia, Nephron is a certified woman-owned business and one of the fastest-growing companies in South Carolina. This is Nephron’s first partnership with the university and was developed through External Affairs’ Office of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives at Clemson University.

    “When the External Affairs’ Office of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives approached us about this project we were excited to get involved,” said Wang, associate professor of mechanical engineering. “Our work in robotics can have a tremendous impact on individuals across the country and we are looking forward to working on this because of its benefits for the many patients Nephron serves.”

    “Industry needs are changing at a rapid rate and Clemson is equipped to support companies like Nephron. Together, we have created a mutually beneficial project to enhance their capabilities while providing the university’s students with unique, hands-on research experience,” said Angie Leidinger, vice president for External Affairs. “This partnership is a testament to the work happening at Clemson and we’re looking forward to this collaboration, which will advance their business and benefit South Carolinians.”

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    5-year Phase II COBRE grant will result in more funding to support research conducted at USC see more

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded the University of South Carolina a five-year grant totaling more than $11.2 million to support the COBRE Center for Targeted Therapeutics based at the College of Pharmacy. This is Phase II of the COBRE grant, and follows the five-year Phase I portion of the research grant, which concluded this year.

    The COBRE Center for Targeted Therapeutics (CTT) is directed by SmartState endowed chair and drug discovery and biomedical sciences professor Dr. Igor Roninson, an internationally-recognized researcher in cancer therapeutics.

    “Dr. Roninson is an exceedingly accomplished scientist and has been successful in navigating the transition of this Center from the Phase I stage to the Phase II, which is not an easy task.  Less than one-half of the Phase I COBREs are successfully converted into a Phase II program,” said Dr. Stephen J. Cutler, Dean of the College of Pharmacy. “Under the Phase I Center, Dr. Roninson has directed the advancement of young faculty members into independently funded scientists, supported the growth of a critical mass of investigators focused on the design and discovery of new therapeutic agents, and enhanced the development of new research cores at the University of South Carolina.  Under the Phase II Center grant from NIH, Dr. Roninson should be able to strengthen the Center for Targeted Therapeutics at the UofSC.”

    Dr. Roninson was awarded the five-year Phase II COBRE grant of $2,235,000 annually from the National Institutes of Health to support the CTT. This Center was created to attract and foster the professional development of talented junior scientists dedicated to research in the treatment of debilitating diseases and to develop the infrastructure for targeted therapeutic studies.

    “Dr. Roninson’s Phase I COBRE-CTT established a cadre of highly talented and successful junior faculty in the College of Pharmacy, College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Medicine, whose research efforts focused on the discovery of new drug targets,” said Dr. Kim Creek, Associate Dean of Research at the College of Pharmacy. “The impact of the COBRE-CTT on research productivity at UofSC is substantial and far reaching. The Phase II award will provide funding for the COBRE-CTT for an additional five years and will support the hiring of additional junior faculty in the area of targeted therapeutics and allow for overall growth of this thriving Center.”

    The Center for Targeted Therapeutics includes three resource cores, including the Functional Genomics Core, the Drug Design and Synthesis Core and the Microscopy and Flow Cytometry Core. A core director is assigned to each of the research cores. These experts provide scientific advice in project development, along with technological support.

    For more information on the College of Pharmacy’s COBRE Center for Targeted Therapeutics, visit: https://tinyurl.com/yyy72s6c

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    KIYATEC advances published in Scientific Reports see more

    KIYATEC, Inc. today announces that results from its prospective, multi-center pilot study, to investigate their assay’s predictive accuracy and correlation to outcome among newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients, have been published in Scientific Reports. Study findings represent both a preliminary clinical validation for the company’s ovarian cancer assay and a significant developmental milestone for the assay’s technology platform, known as Ex Vivo 3D Cell Culture (EV3D).

    “For ovarian cancer patients and their physicians, this study represents an important step in demonstrating our ability to deliver a robust predictive assay with the potential to positively support therapeutic decision-making and improve patient outcomes,” said Matthew Gevaert, CEO of KIYATEC. “Our mission is to optimize and leverage our EV3D cell culture technology to develop response-predictive clinical assays across a range of solid tumor types and make a difference in the future of cancer care.”

    In the study, primary tissue from 92 newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients were prospectively collected and tested for response to National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)-recommended frontline chemotherapy drugs at KIYATEC’s central laboratory. Assay results were successfully generated for 83 (90%) patient samples. All 92 patients received standard of care chemotherapy (80% adjuvant, 20% neoadjuvant) independent of the KIYATEC drug response prediction test result.

    A total of 44 patients (of the 83 patients tested) met minimum follow-up time of 6 months post-chemotherapy for inclusion in this publication. The KIYATEC assay successfully predicted responders (i.e. platinum sensitive) and non-responders (i.e. platinum resistant) with an accuracy of 89% (39/44, p<0.0001).

    Investigators also assessed assay accuracy and correlation to outcome among the 35 of 44 (80%) patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy. In this cohort, the KIYATEC assay correctly predicted responders and non-responders with 89% accuracy (31/35, p=0.0004). From date of surgical debulk, progression free survival (PFS) among test subjects predicted to respond to the first line chemotherapy they received was over 20 months v. 9 months for patients predicted not to respond (p=0.01).

    “At present, clinicians have no way of knowing, prior to treatment, which of our newly diagnosed or relapsed ovarian cancer patients will respond or not to approved drug therapies,” said Larry Maxwell, MD, Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology and co-director of Inova’s Women’s Health Integrated Research Center (WHIRC), and an author of the study. “To predict a complex future result with very high accuracy is a meaningful achievement, especially given that sometimes these outcomes take months to define. Similar test performance in larger, follow-on studies would establish this as a go-to tool in cancer drug selection that should help improve patient outcomes in ovarian cancer.”

    Based on these promising findings, KIYATEC has opened a prospective, pivotal clinical study, 3D-PREDICT (NCT03561207), in 500 patients to further validate EV3D-enabled clinical assays for newly diagnosed and recurrent ovarian cancer (8-drug panel) and glioblastoma (12-drug panel). The study is currently open to enrollment.

    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 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
    Nephron advances let it deliver supplies to hospitals faster than ever see more

    Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp., headquartered in West Columbia, has announced the implementation of a microbial testing tool that the generic respiratory medication manufacturer says will help it deliver medical supplies to hospitals faster than ever.

    Growth Direct, developed by Massachusetts-based lab equipment supplier Rapid Micro Biosystems, automates the incubation, colony counting and data entry of microbial environment testing, according to a Nephron news release. The tool also detects microbial growth 50% faster than human eye.

    “We work hard, day in and out, to deliver safe, effective and affordable life-saving medications as efficiently as possible,” Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy said in the release. “Automating our microbial monitoring process allows us to produce safer drugs faster and decreases the shortage of opioid-free pain medication currently facing our nation’s hospitals.”

    Growth Direct will allow Nephron’s 503(b) outsourcing division, which produces pre-filled sterile syringes and IV bags, to deliver medical supplies more quickly, the release said.

    “We're excited that Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. has joined the growing list of global pharmaceutical manufacturers who are upgrading and automating their QC Microbial testing methods with the Growth Direct,” Rapid Micro Biosystems CEO Rob Spignesi said. “And we are proud to help Nephron Pharmaceuticals reduce the shortage of important drugs that help make surgery safer and less painful for patients across the country.”

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    SC life sciences seeks to maintain Medicare Part B see more

    South Carolina's life sciences industry has signed on in support of the Part B Access for Seniors and Physicians (ASP) Coalition’s efforts to continue protecting the Part B program and patient access to Part B medicines. This letter, complete with 104 signers, was sent to Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Wyden, Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, and the entire Senate Finance Committee.

    The final version can be downloaded and read here. We will keep you up to date as we receive any comments or feedback on this important issue.

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    Life sciences booming in Charleston, across South Carolina see more

    By Dustin Waters, Charleston Business

     

    With almost 30 new residents moving to the region every day, Charleston County has no difficulty attracting talent and businesses. Instead, the main concern locally is maintaining a balance between industry and quality of life that keeps the region’s economic engines humming. 

    “I think it’s safe to say that manufacturing is alive and well. It accounted for about 33 percent of what’s going on,” says Steve Dykes, Charleston County’s executive director of economic development, describing industry growth over the past two years. “Manufacturing, that broad category, also includes automotive and aerospace.”

    He adds, “The other thing that I think is very noteworthy in Charleston County is life sciences. We had six announcements in the life sciences space. That includes drug makers, medical devices, research organizations that perform clinical trials.”

    Since 2017, Charleston County has been home to 39 major new business announcements, accounting for 2,246 new jobs created in the area and $241 million in capital investments. Including Charleston County’s ever-expanding lineup of brewers and distillers, manufacturing made up almost half of these new and expanding businesses, followed by the life science sector and IT. 

    Five to 10 additional projects in Charleston County are expected to be announced by the end of 2019, but the real takeaway is that a vast majority of activity in the area is related to expansions, rather than new businesses coming to the area. Of the 39 new projects announced over the past two years, 74 percent have been news of expansions—meaning that businesses already in Charleston County like what they see. 

    Working with a wide collection of organizations throughout the county, Charleston County’s Office of Economic Development relies on a healthy partnership between local school districts, municipalities, and private businesses to connect students with careers in the area. One example of this collaborative effort is the S.C. Aeronautical Training Center at Trident Tech. Providing training for those looking to enter into the region’s advanced manufacturing sector, the $80 million center received around a quarter of its funding from the county, according to Dykes.

    “We have 24 people a day moving here, two-thirds of which are college-educated. We’ve already got a very strong base of college-educated people living in Charleston County. Much higher than any of our neighboring counties,” says Dykes. “I think we are just going to continue to see a wave of brains, if you will, coming into the area. There was a time back in the ’90s when we were worried about brain drain. We had people go to school here, get educated here, and then promptly leave due to the lack of meaningful career choices. Everything is totally reversed now. We’re a center where people come.”

    Dykes points to the closure of the Charleston Naval Base in 1993 as the event that spurred local leaders to reconsider how they do business in Charleston County. Since that time, the area has become home to a diverse and healthy economy. Now, the focus moving forward is making sure all this growth doesn’t ruin what brought so many to Charleston in the first place. 

    “We never want to have growth in general compromise our quality of life here. There’s a lot of emphasis that’s going on now with all the governments here about the transportation system and affordability,” says Dykes. 

    In addition to an increased push to improve and expand regional public transportation, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance recently sponsored an effort called Reboot the Commute, for which members of the local business community announced they would be offering more flexible working hours to reduce rush hour traffic congestion. Meanwhile, Dykes says his office is working on outreach into the county’s more impoverished communities, making sure that these residents are aware of any new job openings that may be available. 

    “We’ve had wild success, but with that wild success has come a lot of infusion of money into the community, a lot of development, and development over time can cause gentrification. We’ve seen things becoming less affordable for some folks in our community,” says Dykes. “We have to be focused on workforce housing. We have to be focused on improving the commute and trying to get better public transportation inaugurated here in Charleston. That’s our big emphasis moving forward.”

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    Clemson, Prisma health professionals working to develop early cancer screening test see more

    The Greenville News

    When her younger brother was diagnosed with cancer, Clemson bioengineering professor Terri Bruce re solved to tap her knowledge of human cells to find a way to help others suffering from the dis ease. After devouring all the scientific literature she could, she chose to focus on developing a screening test to detect the disease in its earliest stages when it has a better chance of being cured.

    “It was a time in my life when I felt helpless,” she told The Greenville News.

    “And I felt there’s got to be something I can do — even if I can’t help Greg — to help other people.”

    Because he suffered from brain cancer, she looked to another form of the disease that wasn’t as emotionally entangled but had no early screening tests. She decided on ovarian cancer.

    Now Bruce and her research team are on the brink of a test that they believe could be a screening tool — not only for ovarian cancer, but other cancers too.

    “The hope,” she said, “is to ... catch this deadly cancer much earlier and give women a fighting chance.”

    Improving survival

     

    Ovarian cancer will strike 22,530 women this year, according to the American Cancer Society, and about 14,000 will die of the disease.

    But only about one in five cases is discovered early because there are no reliable screening tests, the society reports.

    A late diagnosis reduces survival. And because the symptoms are so vague, about three quarters of all women are diagnosed at a late stage, said Dr. Larry Puls, the director of gynecologic oncology at Prisma Health Cancer Institute.

    Only 10% to 15% of them will survive long-term. And overall survival numbers haven’t changed much in 40 years, he said.

    Though blood work can test for a protein that can identify some ovarian cancers, only half of stage 1 patients test positive for it, Puls said.

    “One of the things that has eluded us in ovarian cancer is that we have no screening for it,” he said. “But if you can find it when it’s confined to just the ovary alone, 90% of patients beat their cancer.

    “If we could shift women out of stage 3 and into stage 1,” he added, “we can make a huge impact on this disease.”

    For some time, Bruce has been studying exosomes, which are microscopic droplets found in body fluids that were traditionally regarded as a way for cells to rid themselves of debris.

    But further research revealed that they contain parts of the cell they are from as well as proteins that can serve as biomarkers of what’s going on in that cell, she said.

    Cancer often develops because something goes awry in the DNA, leading to aberrant proteins and tumor growth, she said. So she theorized that finding those protein signatures in exosomes could be a way to diagnose cancer.

    “If we can find those aberrant protein signatures and see them on the cells and exosomes,” she said, “ ... it potentially could be used for any type of cancer, as long as you find the biomarker.”

    The process has the potential to be used as a diagnostic tool for other diseases as well, she said.

    So Bruce approached Clemson chemistry professor Ken Marcus, who’d been separating whole human cells for years using fiber strips, and asked if he could separate exosomes.

    “I said, ‘I don’t even know what they are,’ ” he recalls with a chuckle.

    “But she got us some samples and in pretty short order ... we made some really good educated guesses and it worked.”

    Marcus and his “very talented students” were not only able to separate the exosomes, but reduced the time needed to do it from 2 1 / 2 hours to 8 min utes using a test strip made of a polymer that is grooved much like the top of a zip lock bag.

    When fluid is added, it flows down the channels where it interacts with different antibodies that in turn isolate the exosomes, he said, much the way a pregnancy test works.

    Catching it early

    Bruce and Marcus were then introduced to Puls, who joined the research team.

    He’s collecting samples of cervical fluid containing exosomes and proteins obtained at the same time as a pap test. So far, 49 women have been tested with the strip, Puls said, and two who had no symptoms and normal blood tests were revealed to have stage 1 ovarian cancer.

    “That’s the patient we covet the most because we cure 90% of those patients,” he said.

    Puls also hopes the test will one day detect precancerous changes, enabling doctors to surgically remove the tissue — like they do when a pap test reveals a precancerous change — and prevent the development of cancer in the first place.

    While the initial data will be crunched in the next few weeks, Puls said he’s optimistic that the test could be a promising new tool in the battle against ovarian cancer.

    He hopes the test could be used to screen for uterine cancer as well, which strikes another 63,000 women a year.

    Getting close

    The Holy Grail for the process, Marcus said, would be a urine test because it can show what’s going on inside the whole body. But the first step is testing cervical fluid in the doctor’s office.

    “And even that is an infinite step up from where we are today,” he said.

    Because tumors can be caused by a variety of proteins, the test will look for a bank of markers in an effort to capture more cancers, said Bruce, who is also director of Clemson’s Light Imaging Facility.

    “I think we’re close on getting some kind of screening tool,” she said. “And we’re in the process now of (getting) all the patents.”

    So far, the research has been privately funded, but the team plans to use their initial data to apply for federal grants to continue their work.

    They estimate a test could be ready for market in about five years.

    Saving lives

    Carmen Brotherton hopes the test will be routine in her daughter and grand-daughters’ lifetimes.

    The Easley woman’s ovarian cancer was discovered in 2009, making her one of the few to be diagnosed in stage 1.

    “I’ve lost some good friends ... who weren’t caught in time,” said Brotherton, who volunteers with the South Carolina Ovarian Cancer Foundation.

    “It’s always been one of my prayers that some day they would come up with something that would catch it,” she said.

    “This is just a small place compared to the U.S. or the rest of the world. Imagine how many women this could catch. And it might save their lives.”

    When Bruce’s brother was diagnosed in 2012, little could be done to stop the progress of the cancer, she said. He died in January, leaving his two sons fatherless.

    Now she hopes the test will one day mean that fewer people will be left without a parent like her nephews.

    “In conjunction with the discovery of distinct biomarkers, the fibers could lead to finding diseases such as ovarian cancer — and brain cancer — much earlier,” she said.

    “Early enough, I hope, to save many lives in the future.”