Hundreds of nation’s industry leaders to gather for strategic partnership development, insights see more
With the biggest story of 2021 – the global COVID-19 pandemic – serving as a backdrop, the largest life sciences conference in Palmetto State history will convene both in-person and virtually February 22-24 to address how South Carolina and America are accepting the challenge of achieving health and prosperity for all, South Carolina life sciences industry officials have announced.
Themed “Challenge Accepted,” the 2-day SCBIO 2022 event will feature national speaker sessions on Transformational Technologies, Next Generation Patient Care, Ensuring Opportunity for All, and Embracing Collaboration & Innovation – fundamental forces driving the state’s fastest growing industry: life sciences.
Currently listed as a $12 billion industry, national economist Dr. Joseph Von Nessen of University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business will report findings of a just-completed economic impact study of the state’s life sciences cluster, last analyzed in 2017.
FDA Associate Director of the CDER Drug Shortage Staff Valerie Jensen is the first announced featured major speaker for the 2-day conference, addressing the gathering in a Program “Challenge Accepted: Delivering Next Generation Care to Patients Now.” A trained clinical pharmacist, Captain Jensen was one of the initial developers of FDA’s Drug Shortage Program and was named Associate Director in 2012. She continues to manage the Drug Shortage Staff at FDA. Joined by MUSC Health CEO Dr. Pat Cawley, Velocity Clinical Research executive Steve Clemons, and USC Provost Dr. Stephen Cutler, the panel will focus on the industry’s success in to expediting development of medicine, devices, technologies and vaccines in record time and with startling efficacy – and what it means for care around the world going forward.
Captain Jensen will be joined by more than 25 additional presenters and honorees at SCBIO 2022, which brings together leaders and executives from life science organizations across the nation to South Carolina. In deference to the pandemic, FDA protocols on safety are being rigorously adhered to and events are also being presented and distributed virtually, organizers revealed.
The conference will feature a significantly expanded exhibit hall showcasing scores of life sciences industry businesses, institutions of higher learning and essential support industry partners from across America, as well as presentation of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards by South Carolina Life Sciences to the outstanding 2021 Organization of the Year and Individual of the Year. Also to be honored with Pinnacle Awards will be an inductee into the SC Life Sciences Hall of Fame, and an award for an industry Rising Star under 40 years of age.
New SCBIO CEO James Chappell will deliver a highly anticipated “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, while hundreds of in-person and virtual attendees will take advantage of meetings and connection sessions through the conference’s Partnering Portal. Additional speakers will be announced shortly, as well as posted online.
Registration to attend the 2-day conference is now open online. For more details, visit the 2022 Annual Conference section at www.scbio.org. Registration and exhibiting are free to many SCBIO investors. Early bird general admission pricing provides significant discounts to interested companies, industry supporters, students interested in life sciences, faculty and teachers. Limited Exhibit space and sponsorships are also available by inquiring at email@example.com.
The 2-day conference annually draws attendees from across America for networking, innovation updates, opportunity discovery, partnership making and strategic discussion. Already committed attendees include officials across a broad spectrum of life sciences industries including medical devices, bio manufacturing, drug discovery, R&D, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and testing, digital health and health IT, bio-ag and more.
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 more than 700 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. In early 2021, Governor Henry McMaster issued an Executive Order making it a state priority to continue to grow and expand the life sciences industry in the Palmetto State.
“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 James Chappell. “Already accounting for thousands of highly-skilled jobs in the Palmetto State, this sector has tremendous growth potential, and we’re excited to showcase top companies, research universities and leaders from across our state and country at SCBIO 2022.”
Among leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating in the conference are Nephron Pharmaceuticals, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Rhythmlink, SoftBox Systems, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Zverse, Abbott, Alcami and more. All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, and economic development entities including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and others.
As the official state affiliate of BIO, 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 or to register for SCBIO 2021, visit www.SCBIO.org.
FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization to Premier Medical Laboratory Services for At-home COVID-19 TestAssay designed for RapidRona at home tests see more
Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS), one of the largest private medical diagnostics laboratories in the US has provided results for millions of COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the pandemic, contributing largely to the national COVID-19 response. They have also implemented one of the largest variant surveillance initiatives in the country with the capability to sequence up to 42,000 specimens per day. Now, they have been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration to process results for at-home COVID-19 tests.
The RT-PCR-based SARS-CoV-2 assay now authorized by the FDA is designed for RapidRona at home tests which can be ordered online at www.rapidrona.com. RapidRona enables those who would like to test for COVID-19 to collect their own sample at home by a minimally invasive nares swab and then send the specimen with prepaid shipping to the lab for processing of results. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests have been known throughout the pandemic as the gold standard of testing methods due to the highly accurate results that they provide.
“Our scientists have worked diligently to take the steps necessary in receiving the EUA for this test,” said Kevin Murdock, Founder and CEO of Premier Medical Laboratory Services. “We did this because we know how important it is to enable the population to more easily access reliable COVID-19 tests with fast turnaround times from home. We’re proud that this is another way we can provide effective solutions for COVID-19 management.”
At-home COVID-19 tests have been reported as difficult to find during the Omicron surge. The EUA attained by PMLS will allow more people the ability to test and mitigate the spread of the virus. Because some countries around the world only accept incoming travelers who have taken a RT-PCR test with a negative result, RapidRona is the choice for at-home testing among travelers. Returning schools and businesses can also reduce viral transmission rates utilizing RapidRona’s sample collection method designed for improved comfortability, keeping infected employees, students, and staff to a minimum.
PMLS is part of a house of brands under Diversified Medical Healthcare which manufacture testing supplies, develops medical data management software, and provides PPE to seamlessly meet the needs of organizations without delay or disruption.
During the pandemic, PMLS has:
- Processed millions of COVID-19 tests with a turnaround time of 24 hours or less
- Served as the choice processing lab for Health and Human Services testing sites
- Been the trusted COVID-19 management partner for professional sports teams, schools, colleges, large corporations, and health departments spanning from coast to coast
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 and patient-friendly billing. Their expansive testing menu includes advanced Cardiovascular Testing, Diabetes panels, Pharmacogenomics, COVID-19 testing, Women’s Wellness panels, Allergen Specific Ige Blood Testing, and Toxicology. For more information, please visit www.PreMedInc.com or call 1.866.800.5470.
Elastrin Therapeutics is a South Carolina-based biotech developing novel therapies see more
Elastrin Therapeutics Inc., a privately held biotechnology company leveraging a platform technology to develop therapeutics that render calcified tissue and organs supple again, announced the formation of its Scientific Advisory Board. The Board is comprised of leading industry and university experts in cardiovascular research and clinical development. Former CMO of Elastrin Therapeutics, Dr. Pedro M. Quintana Diez, will act as chairman. Elastrin Therapeutics’ lead asset ELT-001 is an EDTA-loaded nanoparticle conjugated with a proprietary monoclonal antibody for the treatment of vascular calcification.
Elastrin Therapeutics’ Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of:
Prof. Charles O’Neill, MD: Dr. O’Neill has had an active basic and clinical research program in vascular calcification for the past 20 years and has published over 45 articles on this subject. As a practicing nephrologist, he has a particular interest in vascular calcification in patients with chronic kidney disease. Current research is aimed at approaches to assess reversibility of calcification in animal models and to slow progression of calcification by altering hemodialysis prescription in clinical trials.
Prof. Elena Aikawa, MD, PhD: Dr. Elena Aikawa is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the Naoki Miwa Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine and the Director of Heart Valve Translational Research Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She was at the forefront in the discovery of inflammation-dependent mechanisms of cardiovascular calcification. Her studies contributed to the discovery of calcifying extracellular vesicles as a precursor of microcalcification.
Prof. Frank Rutsch, MD: Frank Rutsch is an Associate Professor in Pediatrics at Münster University Children’s Hospital, Münster, Germany. After a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of California, San Diego, he became the leader of an independent research group at Münster University Children’s Hospital in 2004. Dr. Rutsch’s main research interests are focused on the discovery of the underlying genetic defects and translational aspects in rare pediatric metabolic and autoimmune disorders.
Dr. Klaus-Dieter Langner: Klaus-Dieter Langner is a life science expert with more than 32 years of experience in pharmaceutical industry. Klaus started his career as research scientist at Behringwerke/Hoechst focusing on the expression of recombinant human plasma proteins and immunomodulators. After 12 years, he moved to Grünenthal where he was appointed as Head of Research. In his last position, Klaus acted as Chief Scientific Officer and Member of the Corporate Executive Board.
Prof. Linda Hands, MD: Linda Hands was appointed Clinical Reader in the University of Oxford and Honorary Consultant Vascular surgeon in 1992 after training in London, Oxford and Chicago. She was Clinical Director of Vascular and cardiothoracic surgery for three years and also served on the Health Authority and a NICE committee. Linda retired in late 2017 as Associate Professor and remain an Hon. Emeritus Professor at the John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Green College, Oxford.
Dr. Pedro M. Quintana Diez, M.D.: Pedro is an internal medicine doctor with over 20 years of clinical development experience in the international biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining Elastrin Therapeutics, Pedro served as CMO of Sensory Sciences LLC and held VP and leadership positions at Grunenthal, Abbvie and ParinGenix. Pedro managed Phase II and III developments in cardiovascular and lung diseases. His experience submitting INDs and CTAs will add further value to the company’s pipeline.
Dr. Yuri Martina, MD, MBA: Yuri has more than 20 years of experience and a strong track record in the strategic and operational leadership of all phases of clinical research and development at companies across Europe and the US. During his career, Yuri has worked actively in different therapeutic areas and he has led teams bringing multiple compounds from pre-clinical phase into clinical studies in both Europe and US, and achieved multiple successful NDA and MAA submissions and approvals.
Former provost returns to South Carolina after leading University of Illinois Chicago see more
Michael Amiridis has been named the 30th president of the University of South Carolina. Amiridis was selected during a meeting on Friday (Jan. 14) by the university’s Board of Trustees to lead the state’s flagship university system.
Amiridis currently serves as Chancellor of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), which he has successfully led since 2015. Prior to his leadership at UIC, Amiridis spent more than two decades on the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus, serving as a professor, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, and the university’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost before leaving for Chicago in 2015.
“I’m excited and honored to return to the University of South Carolina as its next president,” Amiridis said. “Through academics, research and its vibrant culture, the university system is critically important to the people of South Carolina and to the state’s future. I feel privileged to be able to lead this great institution.”
UIC is part of the University of Illinois college system and is home to one of the nation’s largest medical schools. During his tenure at UIC, Amiridis focused efforts on enhancing the student experience, engaging with diverse communities, raising UIC’s national and international reputation, and creating a culture of entrepreneurship.
Under his leadership, UIC saw six years of enrollment growth, surpassing 34,000 students in fall 2021, while winning national accolades for attracting an increasingly diverse student population. UIC achieved record sponsored research awards, exceeding $440 million in FY21. Amiridis also is successfully completing a capital campaign this spring to raise more $750 million in donations for UIC.
Amiridis will start at South Carolina this summer. He replaces Interim President Harris Pastides, who came back to the university in May 2021 after previously serving as president for more than a decade. Amiridis was South Carolina’s provost from 2009 to 2015, working alongside Pastides to elevate academics and scholarship at the university.
“The qualifications to be the next president of the university include higher education experience at a senior level, having ‘walked the walk’ in academic life, a commitment to issues of diversity and inclusion, expertise in budgeting and fundraising, taking joy in celebrating Gamecock Athletics and a deep understanding and love of South Carolina. In selecting Michael Amiridis, the Board has found that person,” Pastides said.
Following Friday’s vote, Board of Trustees Chair C. Dorn Smith III said Amiridis is the right leader to elevate the entire university system.
“Today, we have chosen a scholar and administrator of the first order to lead our institution. Dr. Amiridis understands the university community and has a demonstrated track record of leading a large organization to new levels of success,” Smith said. “I wish to thank everyone in the university community who provided the Board with valuable feedback during this important presidential search.”
Amiridis, 59, is a native of Greece and a U.S. citizen. He earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki in Greece in 1985 and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991. He and his wife, Ero Aggelopoulou-Amiridis (MS, ’97, PhD, ’11), have two children, Aspasia (BS, ’19) and Dimitri (class of 2022).
VCOM receives DHEC’s COVID-19 Community Hero Award see more
The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine was recognized by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control for its efforts to provide vaccines to medically underserved communities across the Upstate.
VCOM received DHEC’s COVID-19 Community Hero Award on Jan. 10 for administering vaccines through their COVID vaccination clinic and mobile medical unit. The mobile medical unit is an RV that has been converted into a medical facility.
“We are both humbled and honored to receive this award,” said Matthew Cannon, dean of VCOM’s Carolinas campus in Spartanburg. “This was certainly not something that was expected, but it was truly a testimony to our school’s mission.”
In the spring of 2020, VCOM partnered with DHEC to hold school-based mobile vaccine clinics for rising sixth and seventh graders to ensure that they had all required vaccines to start school. The effort led to 18 mobile clinics and was a part of a pilot mobile vaccination program for the Cherokee County School District. Mobile COVID-19 vaccines were held at six locations across the Upstate, including at Tri-County Technical College and Dorman High School.
Throughout the pandemic, VCOM was able to administer routine vaccines for children — such as MMR, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and varicella — who were unable to visit a doctor. The medical school partnered with DHEC in 2021 to open a clinic in the Northside area of Spartanburg, which serves as a COVID-19 vaccine administration site across the street from VCOM.
“This has been a pleasure because this has really been truly a joint effort,” said Kandi Fredere, Upstate regional public health director for DHEC. “And everybody’s been at the table really talking through, problem solving and thinking what works best for everybody involved.”
When it came to vaccine distribution, Softbox saved the day. see more
When a pneumonia and meningitis immunization program needed to be rolled out worldwide, the safe transportation of vaccines was a crucial component in the process.
The global bio-pharmaceutical company leading this initiative required a totally reliable, cost-effective Temperature Control Packaging solution to support its drive – and one that was ideal for air transportation.
The award-winning Softbox Silverpod® range was tailor-made for just this kind of activity. Not only was the entire global distribution program completed, but it was done so without any product excursions whatsoever.
Workforce development in life sciences in SC takes another step forward see more
Clemson University has introduced a new Master of Science in Medical Device Reprocessing program open to graduates holding a bachelor’s degree in STEM disciplines.
Designed by industry experts, the yearlong, 30 credit hour program emphasizes optimizing and validating biomedical technologies to support safe reuse of medical devices and healthcare products. Integrating fundamental principles of bioengineering, industrial engineering, medical device design and quality science, the curriculum is eleven graduate-level courses and an immersion/training experience in research or industry. Students enter the asynchronously offered online program in the fall semester and graduate the following summer after an industry internship or mentored research on a medical device reprocessing team.
Medical device “reprocessing” involves the cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization of medical devices after each use. Reprocessing is an essential practice in healthcare delivery and plays a key role in the more than 100 million surgical procedures in the U.S. each year. The Master of Science degree program in Medical Device Reprocessing curriculum provides skills to innovate solutions that address global challenges affecting medical device safety and healthcare sustainability.
The degree program is based on a core curriculum applying knowledge of fundamental principles of bioengineering and industrial engineering; medical device design; and quality science in an industry immersion/training program along with relevant science and engineering applications.
The goal is to prepare globally engaged students to be innovative industry leaders in sustainable biomedical technology through training in modern reprocessing and sterilization technologies, quality science, and human factors in healthcare Graduates will be able to integrate and apply knowledge of:
- medical device design principles to enable reprocessing
- human factors engineering
- the science of sterilization and its impact on materials
- microbiology and the role of process validation and controls
- systems engineering
- supply chain management and
- Six Sigma quality control and regulatory science.
For additional information, candidates and employers are invited to contact Melinda Harman, Ph.D., Program Director & Associate Professor of Bioengineering by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 864-656-4140.
Why this global life sciences COO believes relocation to Charleston, SC, was key to achieving next-level successThorne Healthtech makes name for itself globally from base in Charleston, SC see more
Compliments of Investment Monitor
After visiting 100 potential sites across eight different states, nutraceutical company Thorne HealthTech began a huge relocation to Charleston, South Carolina, in 2014 and has never looked back. Here, Thorne COO Tom McKenna explains what drove its decision and subsequent success.
There are many reasons why a life sciences business might make the monumental decision to relocate their company’s headquarters or manufacturing base either nationally or internationally. Choosing exactly where to move is a significant challenge that requires extensive research, visits and careful evaluation.
This was a challenge that Tom McKenna, chief operating officer at Thorne HealthTech, faced first-hand when he led the company’s relocation some 3,500 miles (5,600km) across the US, from a small town in northern Idaho to one within greater Charleston, South Carolina. Here, he shares his experience of the big move and why he feels the relocation was more than worthwhile.
Thorne was founded in 1989 as a manufacturer of premium-quality nutritional supplements. We have since created digital health solutions providing diagnostics and analytics to identify unmet nutritional deficiencies and provide world-class wellness and prevention education. Our goal is to help people at all stages of life to live and age more gracefully.
We believe the future of wellness is personal. For the first time in history, with the cutting-edge advancements in sequencing technology, artificial intelligence and nutritional research, we can now efficiently offer personalised approaches to wellness, which were previously reserved for late-stage disease care or academic research. We strive to be the differentiated leader in the wellness industry by deploying our scientifically rigorous approach to supporting personalised health and wellness.
What prompted the move from Idaho and what were you looking for in your new location?
In 2013, we recognised that by 2018 we would be out of capacity at our manufacturing facility. While there was plenty of available land in the area, our decision not to expand locally was based on utility capacity, lack of local labour and challenges in attracting talent, as well as the significant distance from the airport and major roadways.
We first looked at around 1,000 different options across all 50 states. We narrowed it to 100, and I personally visited every one of those over a two-year period. During that time, we were introduced to South Carolina’s then governor of state, [Nikki Haley]. She suggested the Charleston region and we looked at some sites. The place we ended up was a no-brainer compared with all the other options. After two years of trying to find a home, when we finally came to Charleston we thought ‘that’s it’!
The key criteria in our decision-making included a business-friendly environment; a robust, affordable and available talent pool with comparable salaries to Idaho; proximity to the local airport and major transit ways; an appealing area for staff to relocate; and attractive state and local incentives. Charleston ticked all these boxes.
What are the risks during a business relocation and how did you mitigate these?
One risk is losing or damaging a critical asset or transitional requirement among the significant multitude of moving parts. This required detailed, almost military-like planning and execution to move some 2,500 pieces of equipment, furnishings and tens of thousands of inventory items.Thorne HealthTech’s corporate office and manufacturing site is located at 620 Industrial Blvd, Summerville, South Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Thorne HealthTech)
To make sure there are no operational disruptions, you also need a certain critical mass of existing staff to move with you, in many cases early, and to stay at least for a while to initiate operations, recruit and train new staff. We worked with Charleston’s economic development organisation called Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA). CRDA helped facilitate and participate in 14 ‘familiarisation’ trips for a total of 140 employees and nearly 300 persons. We would kick the trip off with a seminar on the area and the community, led by CRDA. We would then hop on a bus and CRDA would take us on a three-hour tour around different neighbourhoods and areas, down to the beach and out for a barbeque.
It was very informal and almost familial, and to their credit they showed up 14 times to do these things, each time with welcome bags. CRDA was very helpful in getting folks to see the value of the local community. In fact, CRDA was critical in helping us convince 40% of our Idaho-based staff to relocate to South Carolina. When we got here, they were very helpful on the hiring side too.
What attracted your employees to the Charleston region?
What the greater Charleston area provides is a culture that is perhaps not a lot different from the Pacific Northwest. Our employees love to be in the outdoors – they love to hunt, fish, camp and hike. You can do all those things that you could do in Idaho here in Charleston. The big difference is that instead of doing those things in a short window in the summer, in Charleston you can enjoy them for 12 months of the year, thanks to the climate.
The ocean was another big attraction for folks, as was the proximity to multiple downtowns. In Idaho, the closest city was a two-hour drive away. Here, you can generally be in downtown Charleston in 30 minutes or less, depending on where you live. At the same time, it is not a huge metropolitan area like New York City, Philadelphia or Washington DC, for example.
Are there any ways Thorne HealthTech is more competitive with operations in Charleston?
We are now able to attract more diversified and talented staff, in greater numbers. The proximity to the airport and interstate highway transit has greatly reduced our freight costs and improved our supply chain management and timelines. When we wanted to ship and receive materials in northern Idaho, the largest interstate was an hour away. Here, it is just blocks away.
Our new facility and others we are now expanding into have materially improved our productivity and lowered the cost of operations. We now produce more items in-house and have greater control over our supply, and as a result have dramatically reduced our order fulfilment timelines, which are now comparable to Amazon. We continue to feel we made the right decision in our move to Charleston.
Life sciences expands again in South Carolina see more
MycoWorks, a biotechnology company that specializes in mycelium-grown materials for use as sustainable, luxury-quality leather alternatives, today announced plans to establish operations in Union County. The company’s $107 million investment will create 400 new jobs.
Established in 2013, MycoWorks’ patented Fine Mycelium™ process produces materials including Reishi – a globally recognized breakthrough in materials science – that mimics the performance of animal leathers and lowers environmental impacts. The material offers creative solutions and new design possibilities for fashion and luxury brands while offering relief to supply chain constraints.
Located at 260 Midway Drive in Union, MycoWorks’ new facility will increase the company’s capacity to meet the fashion and luxury industries’ growing demand for its materials, including its flagship product Reishi.
Operations are expected to be online in early 2023. Individuals interested in joining the MycoWorks team should email email@example.com.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project.
"Deciding where to lay down roots was a big decision, but the partnership offered by state and local officials in combination with access to talent and amenities in the area made it easy. We look forward to growing a world class team and operation in Union County, South Carolina.” -MycoWorks Chief Operating Officer Doug Hardesty
“More and more innovative and sustainable companies are finding that South Carolina is an ideal location to establish operations, and we welcome MycoWorks to that growing roster of businesses. The $107 million investment and creation of 400 new jobs will make a significant impact in Union County and beyond.” -Gov. Henry McMaster
“We are at a time of great transformation among various industries, and companies like MycoWorks are paving the way in their arena. We welcome this groundbreaking business to South Carolina and look forward to watching them succeed for years to come.” -Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III
“We are very excited to welcome MycoWorks to Union County. This project will greatly benefit the citizens of Union County through the jobs which will be created and the diversification of our industrial base within our community.” -Union County Supervisor Frank Hart
“We say the Upstate is where manufacturing and technology intersect, and MycoWorks is showing it by choosing to scale up in Union County. Their sustainable biotechnology products add high-tech opportunities to the region’s vibrant engineered materials ecosystem.” -Upstate SC Alliance President and CEO John Lummus
FIVE FAST FACTS
- MycoWorks is establishing operations in Union County.
- The $107 million investment will create 400 new jobs.
- MycoWorks is a biotechnology company that specializes in developing mycelium materials for use as sustainable, luxury-quality leather alternatives.
- Located at 260 Midway Drive in Union, S.C.
- Individuals interested in joining the MycoWorks team should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCRA continues successful run building state economy see more
South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) marked a strong year in 2021. The impact on South Carolina’s innovation economy was over a billion dollars. The total amount includes jobs supported, the salaries of Member and Portfolio Companies, grant funding to companies and academic institutions, and investments made by its affiliate, SC Launch Inc. SCRA’s economic impact was recently published in its annual report, ScaleUP SC.
Included in the $1.003 billion impact are:
- 5,429 South Carolina-based jobs supported by SCRA programs and operations.
- $73,811 average salary of SCRA-supported companies, 53% higher than the state’s average of $48,097.
- $4.6 million in grants to advance research capabilities, commercialize technology, expand product offerings, and fund the costs for businesses relocating to the state.
- $2.2 billion in additional funding from venture capitalists, etc. to SC Launch companies since the inception of the program in 2006, with over $722 million received in 2021 alone.
“SCRA again has proven how important it is to our state’s economy. The funding and other support they provide to tech startups and academic institutions produce higher-paying jobs. This has a direct impact on our state’s economy. South Carolina is becoming a state known for its growing knowledge-based economy and SCRA is a major catalyst for this growth,” said Joey Von Nessen, PhD, University of South Carolina Research Economist who prepared the economic impact analysis.
Other 2021 highlights include several SCRA Member Companies and SC Launch Inc. Portfolio Companies scaling up after pauses due to the pandemic. Many increased staff, affecting job growth, and others expanded their physical operations. Some even moved their operations to South Carolina from other states.
“I often talk about how exciting it is to see innovation develop and grow in our state. We not only have a front row seat, but we also have the honor and responsibility to help it grow. Our team shares my passion and it’s evident in our daily activities. We may be funding a relocation to bring a technology-based company to South Carolina, providing a grant to a startup at one of our colleges or universities, or connecting an early-stage startup to a large industry leader to solve a technology problem, which creates significant growth for the startup or establishes a technology platform at the university. It’s all in a day’s work here at SCRA,” said SCRA Executive Director Bob Quinn. “With a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, world-class universities, and thriving industry, we’re off to a great start this year as well.”
MUSC making its mark in cancer treatments see more
Many cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation kill cancer cells by inducing significant DNA damage beyond repair. But some tumors still develop alternative ways to survive. Now, scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified such a molecular pathway that helps cancer cells evade destruction.
The protein ECT2 is critical for the activation of a backup survival mechanism cancer cells resort to as part of their response to DNA damage, the scientists described in a study published in the journal Science Signaling.
As DNA damage response is essential for cell survival or death, better understanding of its mechanisms could lead to better combination therapies that can overcome tumor resistance, three researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) said in an accompanying editorial.
Scientists know that the kinase AKT is a key regulator of genome stability—hence cell survival—by mediating downstream signaling involved in DNA damage response and DNA repair. Increased activation of the enzyme has been linked to cancer progression and resistance to drugs. However, the exact mechanisms of AKT activation in the face of DNA damage were unclear.
For its study, the MUSC and Beth Israel team treated multiple cancer cell lines with ionizing radiation or the chemotherapy etoposide and examined their responses. The researchers found that in response to drug-induced DNA damage, the DNA-PK enzyme modified a subunit of the mTORC2 protein complex.
ECT2 recognized that interaction and subsequently promoted AKT activation, according to the team. When ECT2 was removed in cancer cells, treatment with etoposide didn’t induce AKT activation. Compared with control cells, these ECT2-depleted cells responded better to etoposide, showing decreased colony formation.
What’s more, reintroducing ECT2 to the cells enhanced AKT activity, while an ECT2 mutant failed to do so, the team showed. Between the two groups, cells expressing normal ECT2 were less sensitive to etoposide partly because of reduced cell death.
A cancer patient may go through multiple lines of treatment as cancer cells outsmart the drugs they encounter. Many research groups are exploring ways to render resilient tumors vulnerable to existing treatment. Last year, two teams of scientists demonstrated the promising effects of inhibiting an enzyme called POLQ on BRCA-mutated tumors that had stopped responding to traditional PARP inhibitors.
A research team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne recently proposed adding CSF1R inhibition to control tumor-associated macrophages as a strategy to restore responses to the combination of PD-1/L1 immune checkpoint inhibitors, antiangiogenic drugs and chemo.
“Targeting the [DNA damage response] in cancer is of great clinical importance to traditional, current and emerging therapies including immunotherapy given the observed induction of antitumor immunity by DDR-targeted therapies,” the UIC researchers wrote in the editorial.
Findings from the current study pointed to combining DNA damage with DNA-PK-ECT2-mTORC2 network inhibition as a more efficient therapy against cancer, they said.
Life Sciences is front and center in this fabulous podcast see more
Heather Matthews and and Matthew Roberts of the Nexsen Pruet healthcare practice group's Taking the Pulse podcast are joined by special co-host Nexsen Pruet attorney Tushar Chikhliker for a crossover episode with The Buzz: an Economic Development Podcast to introduce SCBIO's new leader, James Chappell.
After a nationwide search, James has recently been named as SCBIO’s new President & CEO to lead the organization’s great work in directing the flourishing life sciences industry in South Carolina. Enjoy this special episode to learn about James Chappell, the future of life sciences in the state and SCBIO’s development efforts at building the business of life sciences across the Palmetto State. Listen to the podcast now.
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.
Nephron Pharmaceuticals continues on rapid growth curve... see more
Nephron Pharmaceuticals’ expansion is progressing as production gets underway on a spate of new business ventures — from at-home COVID-19 test kits to chemotherapy drugs.
Since 2020, the West Columbia drug maker has invested $215 million to build out its campus in Lexington County’s Saxe Gotha Industrial Park. In the past month, the company hired 1,500 new part-time workers as it ramps up production of new product lines, CEO Lou Kennedy said, bringing it to 1,200 full-time employees and 2,500 part-timers.
The hiring spree comes as Nephron produced 30 million doses of reagent for Abbott Laboratories’ at-home COVID-19 test kits last month and assembled about 1 million kits. Kennedy hopes to increase kit production to 2 million per month in January as demand for them has skyrocketed amid new variants of the deadly virus.
Another South Carolina start-up success story see more
Scott Pancoast believes he can put Greenville on the map with his company’s product, and he’s ready to take it to the world.
Zylö Therapeutics is a technology startup that uses a silica powder, called Z-pods — very similar in consistency to talcum powder — to be the vehicle of transport for everything from pain relievers to pesticides. The Z-pods have far-reaching medical applications, as they’ve shown promise in promoting hair growth, treating acne, relieving pain, helping with erectile dysfunction and treating cutaneous lupus, Pancoast said.
The company uses a small facility once owned by Michelin to manufacture and market the product. Aside from some workout equipment and a few machines lining a wall, the workshop is mostly empty, with a small adjacent laboratory where the magic happens. The company doesn’t manufacture the products that finally reach the public; they mostly work through partnerships that produce the product that gets sold to the consumer.
The Z-pods are an amorphous sand that’s perfectly safe for human consumption, said Pancoast. As the pods are rubbed into the skin, whatever they are carrying slowly absorbs into the skin.
The pods are also useful in pesticide applications because they don’t run off the soil easily.
Pancoast came to the Upstate from San Diego while his son attended Furman University and fell in love with the area. After a brief stint in retirement, Pancoast joined Zylo’s original owners as to help raise funds for the company. After a few ups and downs, the owners left the business him.
“Every day is a rollercoaster (with startups),” he said.
Pancoast has since received several seven-figure grants to develop the technology but says traditional capital is hard to come by.
“You get told no a lot,” he said.
Still, the company has grown to seven employees and two independent contractors, with plenty of room for growth. He hopes to expand to 40-50 employees, build a clean room or two and continue to build capital through grants and investments.
Z-Pod applications include:
- Harnessing nitric oxide
- Patchless use of CBD
- Other pain relievers delivered without uncomfortable patches
- Increasing the bioavailability of curcumin, a promising drug
- Sustained pain relief with lidocaine