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South Carolina economic development

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Zverse adding to capabilities with new product offerings see more

    Compliments Columbia Regional Business Report

    Columbia-based digital manufacturing solutions company ZVerse Inc. has launched new technology that creates 3D computer-aided design files from 2D technical drawings, cutting some project times by as much as half.

    The automation-assisted conversion generates a rapid 3D conversion project quote, then creates 3D manufacturing files that can be stored in a digital library, allowing field and repair technicians to quickly access the files and manufacture parts from anywhere, according to a news release from ZVerse.

    “ZVerse has been doing this work for years, converting 2D files to 3D through our on-demand design services,” company president David Craig said in the release. “We know the areas where you can drive automation and drive the biggest impact in workflow. We have also learned that the greatest time spent in the conversion process can be automated and we now have automated those steps. We are committed to driving even more types of automation in and around this critical business need.”

    Project times can be reduced by an average of 35% to 50% with the elimination of the need to re-draw part geometries at current manufacturing software standards, the company said.

    The advancement will address the lack of 3D digital files that is an obstacle to digital manufacturing and on-demand maintenance, repair and overhaul part production at scale, according to the release. Manufacturing engineers and industrial designer can more quickly convert legacy files, resulting in time and cost savings while improving geometric accuracy.

    The service will also reduce equipment downtime, reduce production costs and allow ZVerse customers to carry less inventory, the company said.

    Founded in 2013, ZVerse shot to national prominence last year with the development of its ZShield Flex face shield, which was named an Innovation by Design Awards winner by business magazine Fast Company.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Together, Rutgers and Premier are publishing a scientific article demonstrating their findings see more

    Public Health Research Institute at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS) have conducted studies on the stability and viral inactivation properties of the Truckee Applied Genomics (TAG) TAG-NGPM+ virus inactivating media. The studies show that the non-flammable solution contains a chemical make-up which may increase both room temperature stability and freeze-thaw integrity. This means that the specimen is better preserved during transit to a testing laboratory, and as a result, could increase the accuracy of testing results while decreasing the number of samples ruined by temperature changes. Rutgers’ data also shows that the patented TAG-NGPM+ inactivates SARS-CoV-2 in the specimen, making it safer for transport and handling by laboratory staff.  

    “PMLS is proud to participate in this collaborative effort with such great institutions as Rutgers and Truckee Applied Genomics,” said Austin Shirley, Director of Operations for Premier Medical Laboratory Services. “Effectively  inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other pathogens before transporting them to labs, while also making the testing more accurate and the handling of the media safer, is a tremendous innovation in specimen collection.” 

    The TAG-NGPM+ media was developed based on the patented TAG-1™ Class 1 General Reagent. TAG-1 is a formaldehyde-free tissue fixative that was designed to improve molecular tests while requiring no changes to pathology workflows. The TAG-NGPM+ formulation adds sufficient and complementary anti-viral and anti-bacterial components. These components improve the safety of viral sample handling and provide safer and less costly media handling compared to other virus inactivating media since TAG-NGPM+ contains no guanidinium salts. 

    The studies conducted by PMLS show that the TAG-NGPM+ solution can also be used as an optimal transport media for COVID-19 sample testing. There was a 5 log10 reduction in the viral titer after treatment of SARS-CoV-2 virus with TAG-NGPM+ buffer within 30 minutes while the integrity of the viral RNA remained intact. This might potentially help centralized core laboratories and Point of Care (POC) laboratories safely process patient samples when access to BSL II facilities is limited. Another major advantage the buffer offers is in safe disposal in any disinfectant including 10% bleach solution, since the media is free of hazardous reactive chemicals like guanidinium isothiocyanate (GITC). 

    Drs. Padmapriya Banada and Sukalyani Banik conducted the studies in the Alland laboratory at Rutgers NJMS. According to Dr. Banada, “the TAG-NGPM+ transport media can potentially reduce the biohazard risk associated with COVID-19 testing, as practice that could otherwise expose laboratory personnel to live SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The study showed that the transport media inactivated SARS-CoV-2 at both room temperature and under refrigeration conditions at the tested concentrations. Studies by PMLS also showed that the transport media prolonged sample stability.  By improving the safety and stability of COVID-19 test samples, the transport buffer should greatly simplify on-site or point of care testing in settings such as doctor's offices, workplaces or schools” 

    Dr. Tian Yu, TAG VP of Product Development commented, “TAG-NGPM+ virus inactivation media was designed to increase lab staff safety, while eliminating the need for a cold chain and protecting RNA integrity for weeks at ambient temperature. Because TAG-NGPM+ is designed to better stabilize viral RNA fragments and preserve protein structures, it will enable additional testing formats on top of molecular testing which are known to show high specificity in COVID19 diagnosis.“ 

    The article by Rutgers NJMS and PMLS demonstrating their research findings is soon to be published. For more information, please call 866-405-2199 or visit www.PreMedInc.com.  


    ABOUT PREMIER MEDICAL LABORATORY  

    Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS) is a CLIA and COLA regulated laboratory based in Greenville, South Carolina focused on providing clinically meaningful results to medical practitioners. Premier Medical Laboratory Services offers a variety of highly specialized tests including: the only Type II Diabetes molecular predisposition test available in the U.S., advanced cardiovascular testing, hereditary cancer screening, carrier screening, women’s health panels, pharmacogenomics, serum allergy testing, blood wellness, Hepatitis C genotyping, respiratory pathogens, gastrointestinal pathogens, and more. In addition to its specialty programs, Premier Medical Laboratory offers a comprehensive testing menu of general chemistry, immunoassay, and hematology tests. The company also is proud to offer a patient friendly billing policy. For more information, please visit www.PreMedInc.com or call 866-405-2199.  

  • sam patrick posted an article
    South Carolina featured in JD Supra article see more

    South Carolina has long been known for its colorful history, beautiful beaches and vibrant tourist industry.  In recent decades, it has also come to be well known for its high-tech manufacturing with the likes of BMW, Boeing, Honda, Michelin, Samsung and Volvo, all locating large manufacturing facilities throughout the State. What you might not know is that South Carolina is also home to another rapidly growing high-tech industry—the Life Sciences industry.

    The term Life Sciences is generally used to include companies in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, food processing, environmental, and biomedical devices. The Life Sciences industry also includes organizations and institutions that devote the majority of their efforts in the various stages of research, development, technology transfer and commercialization, as well as the companies who support these entities.

    According to SCBIO, the trade association which represents the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina, there are over 700 companies and businesses actively engaged in the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina and at least one Life Sciences organization is located in 42 of the State’s 46 counties. The economic impact of the Life Sciences industry is approaching $12 billion per year and is continuing to increase, according to a recent study. It is also estimated that the Life Sciences industry has created over 40,000 high paying jobs in South Carolina over the last several years, with an average annual salary of over $70,000.

    The Life Sciences industry in South Carolina is very diverse.  It includes companies ranging from small startups focusing on developing new technology like Okra Medical, to a unique genetic clinical and research institution like Greenwood Genetic Center, which has been serving the State for decades, to large established companies like Nephron Pharmaceuticals. Nephron is a pharmaceutical manufacturer and cGMP compliant 503(B) Outsourcing facility, and a global leader in the manufacture of generic respiratory medication that has rapidly expanded its manufacturing capacity and services over the last seven years. Nephron is owned and led by Lou Kennedy, whose vision and leadership have spurred the Company’s growth and success and have also made her one of the State’s most important business leaders, as well as an important thought leader in the Life Sciences industry.

    South Carolina is a pro-business state that has worked diligently to attract large companies looking for a friendlier business climate from a tax and regulatory perspective. An additional driver for the growth of the Life Sciences industry is the existing ecosystem for Life Sciences, which is supported by the State’s three major research universities: University of South Carolina, Medical University of South Carolina and Clemson University as well as over ten additional universities and colleges in the State - from Furman University with its innovation program and nationally recognized chemistry department, to Newberry College launching new curriculum and a degree focused on pharmaceutical manufacturing. These universities and colleges further validate the increasing depth of the existing ecosystem and the positive impact it will have on strengthening the talent pool available to the Life Sciences industry. Other factors contributing towards this growth are the efforts of the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Research Authority, the strong system of hospitals and health care systems within the State, the support of various economic development alliances, the State’s expanding technical college system, the support of elected officials and the growth and leadership of SCBIO over the last several years.

    SCBIO has spearheaded a series of joint private / public initiatives to promote the growth of the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina. These efforts include promoting statewide economic development strategies to attract Life Sciences companies to locate or relocate in South Carolina and consistently promoting and strengthening the existing ecosystem which allows established South Carolina Life Sciences organizations to collaborate, grow and flourish. In addition to its economic development efforts, SCBIO has integrated its efforts with the broader mission to transform and positively impact healthcare as evidenced by its unique alliances forged with the South Carolina Hospital Association, several large health systems and large payers like Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina.  For the past four years, SCBIO has been led by its CEO, Sam Konduros. Konduros has experience with economic development, operations of Life Sciences companies, developing start-up companies and most importantly—developing and implementing an ambitious strategic plan for the Life Sciences industry. During his time at SCBIO, Konduros has assembled a talented team.  His vision and energy have fueled a rapid growth in membership and engagement and an increased in awareness and support for the Life Sciences industry across the State. Under his leadership, SCBIO significantly expanded its membership and quadrupled its revenues, while at the same time establishing itself as a powerful force for economic development and creating a new platform for Life Sciences companies to collaborate on innovations and research. Earlier this month, Konduros announced his departure from SCBIO to serve on the Board of Vikor Scientific, another successful company within the Life Sciences space in South Carolina that is rapidly expanding. He will also serve as CEO of a new health innovation company powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies focusing on science personalized medicine strategies that will be a part of Vikor Scientific’s expanding portfolio of companies. SCBIO is conducting a national search for Konduros’ replacement and there is no doubt that the association and its members will continue to benefit from the momentum created over the last four years as it continues to push the Life Sciences industry forward.

    The global COVID-19 pandemic presented a profound challenge to the Life Sciences industry as it disrupted the way business was conducted. The Life Sciences industry in South Carolina stepped up to these challenges and turned them into opportunities. Many Life Sciences companies pivoted from their existing strategic plans to address the needs of the State and Nation by providing assistance in key areas that became critical during the pandemic. Companies like Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Vikor Scientific, KIYATEC, Premier Medical Lab Services and others offered much needed expanded COVID-19 testing services inside and outside South Carolina. Others such as ZVerse, a digital manufacturing company, modified its business model to become one of the largest producers of reusable face shields for use during the pandemic and beyond. Over the last 12 months, they have produced millions of these reusable facemasks and have been recognized throughout the country for their efforts. Rhythmlink International, a medical device leader, donated thousands of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals and other healthcare providers across South Carolina.  In addition, Milliken & Company boosted its production of biosmart fabrics used in scrubs and lab coats, which uses chlorine bleach-activated technology and molecular engineering to kill up to 99.9% of the bacteria and viruses it touches. Headquartered in Greenville, Vitalink Research was selected by Moderna to run its Phase III vaccine clinical trial, demonstrating national confidence in Life Sciences research operations in South Carolina. These are just a few examples of how South Carolina Life Sciences companies responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight why the Life Sciences industry is one of the fastest growing segments of South Carolina’s economy.

    The future of the Life Sciences industry is bright in South Carolina.  South Carolina has become an attractive place to develop and expand Life Sciences companies and there is great leadership within these companies. The rapid growth of Life Sciences is becoming more apparent to the public and media. In February 2021, Governor McMaster proclaimed February 15-19 as South Carolina Life Sciences Week in the Palmetto State.  Our Life Sciences companies are leading the discussions of how to bring more Life Sciences manufacturing back to the U.S, including to South Carolina, and how to develop a domestic source of PPE and other parts of the supply chain. There is also increased collaboration on leveraging increased use of technology like telehealth and digital health to deliver health care services to rural and less developed areas using technology developed and perfected in South Carolina. SCBIO is also leading an effort to expand and improve the workforce to support Life Sciences companies.  All signs point to a very bright future for the Life Sciences industry and South Carolina is just beginning to see the benefits of this growth and development.

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  • sam patrick posted an article
    Cancer testing innovator KIYATEC fits investor’s focus in disruptive healthcare technology see more

    KIYATEC, Inc. announced today that it secured a $2.5 million investment from Boston-based healthcare service and technology venture capital fund Seae Ventures. The fund’s focus in disruptive healthcare technologies aligns with KIYATEC’s goal to fundamentally change the way cancer drugs are selected by providing oncologists with patient-specific evidence of response, prior to treatment initiation.

    Although significant strides toward personalized medicine have been achieved in the past two decades, oncologists remain largely unable to predict treatment response for individual patients. As a result, many patients receive ineffective drug therapies, while unnecessarily experiencing toxic side effects and shouldering high cost of treatment. KIYATEC’s 3D-Predict platform and associated tests increase the patient-centric value of cancer drugs by informing oncologists’ pre-treatment cancer drug selection. Importantly, the platform also aids pharmaceutical companies by improving decision-making across drug lifecycles.

    “We are grateful for Seae Venture’s ’yes’ to KIYATEC and welcome the addition of their managing partner, Jason Robart, to our board of directors. The fund’s healthcare industry relationships coupled with Jason’s personal experience with health insurance innovation will be beneficial as we implement our strategy to impact those who need it most – cancer patients and their providers,” said Matthew Gevaert, CEO and co-founder of KIYATEC.

    The investment comes on the heels of other recent announcements of success for KIYATEC. The first release of the 3D-PREDICT clinical study data in late 2020, combined with the more recent March 2021 publication demonstrating platform expansion into immuno-oncology, highlight the rapid and disruptive nature of KIYATEC’s progress. The company’s platform has been shown to be clinically predictive for patient-specific response to chemotherapy and targeted agents, and it has been analytically validated in both ovarian cancer and high-grade gliomas.

    Robart said, “KIYATEC has the potential to significantly improve outcomes for patients and their providers, not just for one cancer type, but across many solid tumors. We’re excited about the science, the team and the potential. We welcome KIYATEC into our portfolio of companies and I’m thrilled to join its board of directors.”

     

    About KIYATEC

    KIYATEC leverages its proprietary ex vivo 3D cell culture platforms to accurately model and predict response to approved and investigational cancer drugs targeting a spectrum of solid tumors. The platforms are positioned to address the gap-defining limitations of current cancer drug selection. 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
    Trio collaborate to turn back COVID tides see more

    It was not long ago when we all witnessed demand for critical Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) far outstripping supply on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle.

    While this story line is now receding in our memory, it became a rare instance in South Carolina based on extraordinary efforts from entities like Humimic Medical, South Carolina Biotechnology Organization (SCBIO), and South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP).  Not only did these groups address frontline workers, but they also addressed the critical PPE needs of organizations a few layers back from the front lines – such as non-profit community outreach groups, church programs, and workforce development groups.

    Humimic Medical teamed up with SCBIO and SCMEP to help these organizations and others out. Leveraging the broad network of SCBIO and connected distribution channels of SCMEP, Humimic Medical donated thousands of face shields to organizations across South Carolina which desperately needed quality, made-in-the-USA protective equipment.

    “Helping the ‘little guys’ has always been part of my DNA, I guess,” commented Joel Edwards, CEO of Greenville’s Humimic Medical. “We started in a garage 10 years ago and grew from there. Organizations willing to support the little guy like us along the way helped us tremendously in getting to where we are today. So having the opportunity to give back and help others who may not be first in line to receive PPE supplies just felt right.”

    Humimic Medical does not typically produce PPE. However, as they continued to become more deeply entrenched in the collaborative life science ecosystem network that SCBIO has forged in the Palmetto State (which includes groups like SCMEP), they realized they could join the fight against COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, Humimic Medical shifted some of its engineering and manufacturing resources from their medical trainer product lines to help supply PPE where it was needed most.

    There was one problem though. Humimic Medical didn’t have the established distribution channels for PPE in South Carolina. That’s where SCBIO’s connection to SCMEP came into play. Organizations like SCMEP also serve as key players in South Carolina’s connected, collaborative, and growth-oriented network. SCMEP’s mission of helping state organizations improve their competitiveness, performance, and profitability provided a perfect backdrop for Humimic Medical to connect to organizations around our state who still desperately needed PPE supplies like face shields.

    “SCMEP always prides itself in being a strategic resource for companies in our State”, shared Chuck Spangler, President of SCMEP. “We’re grateful we could leverage our network in collaboration with SCBIO and Humimic Medical to serve organizations in need.”

    Added SCBIO Interim CEO Erin Ford, whose team was able to rapidly connect Humimic with key contacts to deliver the new face shields where they are needed most, “We continue to live our mission of being the life sciences industry convener, and that’s more important than ever right now.”

    “Organizations SCBIO and SCMEP continue to be invaluable assets in our State,” said Edwards.  “The rich, collaborative networks these kind of groups create are what will continue to make South Carolina a leader in new business development.”

     

    About Humimic Medical:  

    Humimic Medical is a rapidly growing medical trainer and synthetic gel manufacturing company based in Greenville, SC. The company is driven by innovative product design, world-class customer service, and fueled by robust collaborative partnerships with universities and healthcare providers. Humimic Medical utilizes its proprietary synthetic gel blend to more closely represent human tissue elasticity and maintain recyclable/reusable qualities that no other product line currently offers delivered at a significantly lower price point than any existing products.

    About SCMEP:

    SCMEP is a private, non-profit group that serves as a proven resource to South Carolina businesses, providing them with a range of innovative strategies and solutions. An affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), SCMEP operates under the US Department of Commerce to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness. SCMEP uses a strategic, hands-on, partnering approach to help South Carolina companies improve their competitiveness, performance, and profitability in today’s increasingly demanding global economy.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    New Jersey firm expands into South Carolina see more

    Courtesy of Charleston Regional Business Journal

    A biopharmaceutical company has opened a Goose Creek facility as part of its goal to establish 10 or more collection centers around the country by 2024, the company said in a news release..

    New Jersey-based ADMA Biologics Inc. is an end-to-end commercial biopharmaceutical company dedicated to manufacturing, marketing and developing specialty plasma-derived biologics.

    Adam Grossman, president and CEO, said South Carolina and Gov. Henry McMaster expressed strong support for opening the new facility.

     “The state’s impressive infrastructure and skilled workforce create a terrific foundation for ADMA to safely collect and process plasma, and we look forward to continuing to grow our operations in the state now and in the coming years,” he said in a statement.

    McMaster was on hand April 23 for a ribbon cutting ceremony, which Grossman said helped create an even stronger beginning for the company.

    Beneath the corporate umbrella, ADMA has seven plasma collection facilities at various stages of approval and development. The Lowcountry plasma center, located at 214 Saint James Ave., is the newest and is projected to need up to 50 health care workers at full capacity.

    “Securing raw material plasma supply has never been more important than it is today, and we believe the series of recent acquisitions of plasma collection facilities validates this scarcity value,” Grossman said.

    The Goose Creek center includes automated registration, high-tech collection equipment designed to shorten the donation process, free WiFi and individual flat-screen TVs at each donor station and trained, certified staff.

    The company is on track to achieve its 2024 goal and Grossman said the expansion will support ADMA’s goal of producing “quarter-over-quarter revenue growth throughout 2021 and beyond.” The Goose Creek operations also will help ADAM create a fully integrated and self-sufficient plasma supply chain, ensure continuity of product supply and generate asset value for shareholders, the company said.

    ADMA plans to file an application for a biologics license and anticipates a standard 12-month BLA review period by the Food and Drug Administration.

    Until then, ADMA is allowed to collect plasma donations on site. Following the FDA’s approval, the company can then use the collections for further use in the manufacturing of life-saving therapies.  

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Applications pipeline opened in four new areas see more

    Flywheel’s early-stage investment and accelerator program announced today it is expanding in regions ranging from the North Carolina Core to Upstate South Carolina. New Ventures opened applications this month to four separate application pipelines and areas of focus through June 7, 2021.

    The expanded accelerator program offering is coupled with a fourfold expansion of the corollary investment funds. “Our ability to replicate the New Ventures program as we expand our network of innovation centers along the I-85 corridor is based on the success of the program over its first five years,” says Peter Marsh, a cofounder of Flywheel and administrative member of the New Ventures LLCs.

    “As we expand geographically, the regions we serve all find that access to inception- and early-stage capital fills a gap in the entrepreneurship ecosystems and helps stimulate formation and attraction of scalable technology companies,” he continues.

    Page Castrodale, the Executive Director of Economic Development for Cabarrus County where Flywheel just opened it’s third location adds, “We believe that economic development is just as much about organic job creation as it is about recruiting new companies to our community. The expansion of the New Ventures program to our region will stimulate economic development at the earliest stages, and we know the impact of that will be immeasurable.”

    Flywheel’s affiliated Foundation administers the accelerators using their Learning Management System to deliver the core curriculum and subject matter experts to deliver insights in the market verticals. The development of the hybrid developmental model was in response to the pandemic.

    “The silver lining from 2020 is that it forced us to be innovative with a virtual cohort experience,” says Adrian Smith, Executive Director of the Flywheel Foundation. “That enables us to run multiple accelerators simultaneously, and the participating companies gave us the best ratings out of any year so far.”

    The accelerators will run from August 3 through Demo Days on October 28-29.  Companies accepted into the program also enjoy a residency at Flywheel innovation centers during the 13-week program and for 3 months following.

    “The accelerator program offering is diverse and a reflection of the knowledge assets in the regions served as well as the economic and social impact mission of the Foundation,” says Adrian. Details on the four 2021 accelerators can be found at https://www.newventuresnc.com/. New Ventures is conducting information session for investors and founders throughout the application window and the dates are listed on the website.

    • Health, Wellness, and Nutrition – Focus is on the regional healthcare knowledge assets and partnering with the North Carolina Research Center in Kannapolis and the NC Food Innovation Lab.
    • AgTech - Greenworks of Lexington is a 64,000 sq. ft. agricultural lab and research facility with a 20,000 square foot Flywheel coworking innovation center opening in 2022. Flywheel is  partnering with SouthXCapital and anchor AgTech tenants on the accelerator.
    • B2B Software with focus on SaaS – This accelerator pulls participation from all of Flywheel’s innovation center locations and invites tech companies that intersect with our strongest industries and regional market verticals.
    • The Come Up Accelerator - Partnering with HUSTLE Winston-Salem to offer an accelerator for Black and Brown founders. Flywheel Foundation has acted as a fiscal sponsor for HUSTLE since its inception.

    This is the sixth year of the New Ventures Challenge and acceleration program which has created a portfolio of 21 companies over five cohorts starting in 2016.

    “We measure our success primarily by the valuation growth in the portfolio, customer growth, and the ability of our companies to secure follow-on financing to continue to develop their organizations”, says Patrick Turner, an investor in the first three New Venture funds and a fractional CTO that advises companies in the program.

    The 21 portfolio companies have grown from New Ventures’ first five years have grown in value to a combined $43,155,110, have received over $15 million in financing, and have created over 100 new jobs.

    “Flywheel and the New Ventures program are critical resources that fill a gap that will be catalytic for our Upstate entrepreneurial community,” says Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

    New Ventures is an application-based program that invests an average of $50,000 in inception-stage startups. While the program intentionally seeks out in-state startups, it also invests throughout the Southeast and beyond.

    The expanded program not only reflects Flywheel’s increased reach geographically, but has also increased diversity and inclusion as a priority, partnering with HUSTLE to run the Come Up Accelerator focused on minority founders.  

    “With the Flywheel Foundation's New Ventures curriculum coupled with HUSTLE's cultural competence and commitment to disrupting biases for Black and Brown entrepreneurs, The Come Up accelerator is well suited to help scale people, community trust, and the bottom line of minority-owned businesses”, says HUSTLE Executive Director Magalie Yacinthe.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    IMCS growing into new space, adding positions see more

    Compliments of Columbia Regional Business Report

    An Irmo-based biotechnology company is investing $4.1 million to expand its Richland County operations in a move expected to create 31 jobs during the next five years.

    Integrated Micro-Chromatography Systems Inc. creates, manufactures and distributes products and services for clients including clinical and forensic toxicology labs, academic research facilities, federal government agencies and health science companies. In January, the National Institutes of Health awarded the company a $900,000 Small Business Innovation Research Fast-Track grant.

    “Over the past several years, IMCS has experienced considerable success as a part of the Richland County business community,” Andrew Lee, IMCS CEO, said in a news release. “The tax incentives provided by the county will allow us to continue investing in people, capital equipment and facilities to expand our company and increase economic development in the county.”

    Richland County Council approved a special source revenue credit to reduce property taxes for IMCS by 35% over a 10-year period.

    “County Council is always eager to support growing businesses in Richland County, and it is especially exciting to watch a company like IMCS get its start here and achieve so much,” Paul Livingston, county council chair, said. “The investment and new jobs IMCS is bringing to our community will benefit our residents and are evidence of the type of success businesses can achieve here.”

    IMCS’ enzymes are used in drug-testing labs, and drug discovery labs use the company’s micro separations products to discover antibodies that can be used to fight diseases such as COVID-19. IMCS is using the federal grant to scale up production of new enzymes that will be used to make therapeutic drugs for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

    The grant is funding research into the production of affordable gangliosides, biomolecules that contain sugars and a type of lipid called ceramides and play critical roles in various biological processes. 

    In addition to its headquarters in Richland County, IMCS bought a second nearby facility in 2019 and anticipates purchasing a larger building in the county in the future, according to the release from Richland County. IMCS is combining the existing facilities to ramp up production and delivery of its products to pharmaceutical companies worldwide.

    “We were a USC IdeaLabs incubator company and have continued to grow in the county over the past seven years,” Lee said. “As we look to expand our operation to a third facility, it is only natural that we would want to do so here.”

    The new investment and jobs will be split between IMCS’ Irmo headquarters and the new facility. 

    Founded in 2013 by three Ph.D. scientists from the University of South Carolina, IMCS now has 40 full-time employees, with 600 clients in every U.S. state and in 15 countries.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Erin Ford named SCBIO Interim CEO as Konduros accepts private sector position see more

    Exiting CEO credited with reinvigorating organization, building team and investor base to “take South Carolina life sciences to an entirely new level”; SCBIO to conduct national search for new CEO

     

    SOUTH CAROLINA – April 7, 2021SCBIO Chief Executive Officer Sam Konduros – who has led the rejuvenation of South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, innovating and growing the life sciences industry in the Palmetto State for four years – is stepping down from his current role in May to pursue “an extraordinary private sector opportunity in the life sciences and healthcare space,” the organization’s Board of Directors has announced.

    Konduros is departing SCBIO to serve on the Board of Directors of Charleston-headquartered Vikor Scientific, and as Chief Executive Officer of a new health innovation company focused on delivering a novel blueprint to the healthcare marketplace, powered by AI and blockchain technologies and focused on science-based personalized medicine strategies to solve some of the nation’s most pressing healthcare challenges.  The soon-to-be identified organization will be revealed in May 2021 and will be part of the Vikor Scientific growing portfolio of companies.  Vikor Scientific, led by co-Founders Scotty Branch and Shea Harrelson, is a prominent national brand among SCBIO’s Board and 140+ investors and organizational members, that has experienced explosive growth over the past 3 years.

    Konduros is working closely with SCBIO’s board leadership on a carefully designed transition strategy.  SCBIO’s world class board – comprised of top executives from industry, economic development, healthcare, research, government and higher education – will begin the search for Konduros’ successor immediately with SCBIO Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Erin Ford assuming day-to-day responsibilities and reporting to the board once Konduros officially departs in early May.

    “Sam Konduros has been a force – for economic development, for life sciences and for the long-term prosperity of South Carolina,” said SCBIO Board of Directors Chair Lou Kennedy, also the CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals.  “It has been an honor to work with him, he has made a remarkable impact on this organization, and he leaves it better than he found it, as one of the most influential associations in the state. We thank Sam for the service and sacrifice he has given to SCBIO, and we wish him all the best.”

    As Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Ms. Ford has served as primary lead for SCBIO’s business operations and finances, championing investor relations and existing industry strategies, and spearheading integrated marketing initiatives.  She has managed the majority of the organization’s day-to-day requirements since joining SCBIO in 2017.  She will assume the role of Interim CEO of SCBIO effective May 1st.

    “Serving as President and CEO of SCBIO has been a true honor, and one of the great highlights of my career to date.  It is bittersweet to depart in the midst of such incredible progress, but the organization has never been on more solid footing with strong finances, an amazing team, and a world-class Board of Directors to lead it forward.  I will remain committed to its success for years to come in my new role, as I directly join the beloved industry that I have striven to serve and support in recent years.  I am beyond grateful to SCBIO’s Board and to my new employer, Vikor Scientific, for the extraordinary opportunities that I’ve received,” said Konduros.

    During Konduros’ tenure, SCBIO has more than doubled membership and quadrupled revenues, implemented a strong economic development focus, and launched a new innovation platform.  It also expanded its role as the voice of the life sciences industry, implemented a surging workforce development initiative and created ongoing programs to encourage participation by women in life sciences, to support diversity-equity-inclusion initiatives and to encourage student participation in the industry.  The organization also successfully led industry and organizational pivots during the COVID pandemic.  In a recent proclamation followed by an executive order issued last week, Governor Henry McMaster has formally authorized SCBIO and the state’s Commerce Department to work together to accelerate the onshoring and repatriation of the pharmaceutical industry and vital PPE products and technologies to South Carolina.

    “SCBIO has worked diligently to help South Carolina raise its profile as an emerging leader in the life sciences,” said Ms. Ford. “Our innovative companies and exceptional workforce are drivers in strengthening this industry, and we know that the life sciences will continue to play a critically important role in our state’s economic success.  Sam has been an incredible contributor to this effort, and we intend to build on our Board’s, team’s and his vision to build, advance and grow life sciences in our state.”

    Life sciences has a $12 billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 700 firms involved and over 43,000 professionals employed in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products.  It also represents a significant economic development focus for the state, with strong life science recruiting initiatives led by the South Carolina Department of Commerce and other regional economic development teams.

    South Carolina life sciences has seen a near-doubling of firms and 40% increase in life sciences’ direct employment since 2017, which combine to make it the fastest growing industry sector in the state, according to recent data provided by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, the state's research economist and noted economic development expert with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

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

  • sam patrick posted an article
    SCBIO, 3 life sciences companies highlighted in media reports see more

    Courtesy Greenville News/Gannett

    As the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines have ramped up in recent weeks, life science firms in South Carolina have pivoted to play a role in the vaccination campaign.

    After weeks of only 60,000 dose allocations in January, that figure has doubled with over 130,000 first doses expected to arrive in South Carolina this week.

    The brands are well known — Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson — but lesser known companies have played a role in the clinical trials and ancillary supplies critical to the rollout of the vaccine and some are found in the Palmetto State.

    Gov. Henry McMaster celebrated SCBIO, a life sciences non-profit, and the industry in February for their great year. Part of that success was in response to COVID-19.

    "While 2020 will forever be remembered as the year of an unmerciful global pandemic, our stakeholders heroically rose to the challenge," Sam Konduros, SCBIO's president and CEO, wrote in the non-profit's 2020 report.

    SCBIO and over 100 industry firms supported pandemic efforts such as distribution of personal protective equipment — which includes creating an online PPE exchange portal — creation of a jobs portal, testing and promoted proper mask use on social media.

    That list now includes COVID-19 vaccines research and packaging, and potentially its production.

     

    Clinical trials vital to vaccine development

    The Moderna vaccine was authorized for emergency use on Dec. 18 after clinical trials proved its effectiveness and safety. VitaLink, a Greenville based research company, played an important role in Moderna's phase 3 trials.

    South Carolina had four Moderna phase 3 clinical trial locations out of the nearly 100 locations around the country. Three trial locations — Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg — were conducted by VitaLink Research, a South Carolina based research company which specializes in respiratory medicine.

    "It really was just a natural fit for us," Steve Clemons, VitaLink's CEO and president, said.

    Clemons expected roughly 400 participants through the three sites but the Upstate had roughly 1,200 of the 30,000 enrolled participants nationwide.

    "There should be an awful lot of pride to the Upstate because, frankly, we as VitaLink couldn't have done this without the volunteers," Clemons said.

    Participants were enrolled in the summer and either received the drug or a placebo.

    One of these participants was George Acker who has learned since talking with The News in November that he got the placebo — to his surprise.

    The studies were unblinded in January and those who received the placebo were able to get the real vaccine.

    Acker has received both shots since then.

    VitaLink continues to conduct monthly follow-ups with participants for two years to track side effects, safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

    Nearly 400,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in South Carolina in the last three months.

    The Moderna product has played a vital role in vaccinating long-term care facility residents and staff as initial allocations were given to these populations.

    Clemons is proud that VitaLink has played a part in the solution to the pandemic but also in their work in general.

    "I get to treat people every day using, kind of, tomorrow's therapies," Clemons said. "And I get paid to do it and patients never get billed."

     

    Packaging of Pfizer vaccines

    The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires ultra cold storage, around minus 70 degrees Celsius. This makes shipment a little more challenging but a local packaging company had the solution.

    Softbox Systems, a British company with North America headquarters in Greenville, has over two decades of thermal shipping experience.

    They supply ultra-cold temperature shippers which keep vaccines between minus 90 and minus 60 degrees Celsius for at least ten days unopened with the use of dry ice and insulation. If managed well, these reusable containers can store vaccines for about a month by re-icing the dry ice.

    "[Softbox] immediately understood the unprecedented task at hand that was in front of us with the distribution of the vaccine," Tanya Alcorn, Pfizer's vice president for biopharma global supply chain, said in a March 10 press release. "And quickly started to work with us to develop a unique packaging system that does not waste any precious vaccine and creates a seamless experience for customers.”

    One of two manufacturing centers supporting the vaccine distribution is located in Greenville, the other is in the Netherlands.

    "Our Americas headquarters in Greenville features a full qualification testing lab, product engineering capabilities, and a world-class team," John Hammes, Softbox's general manager of the Americas, said. "All of which helped us support Pfizer in the fight against COVID and develop a way to successfully distribute a vaccine to support the global community."

     

    Vaccines could soon be filled in the Lowcountry

    Lou Kennedy didn't expect on her company would be filling vaccines, but she also didn't plan on the pandemic — no one did.

    In addition to helping with COVID-19 testing efforts, she thought Nephron Pharmaceuticals could take it a step further and help with the vaccinations.

    "We have the type of equipment already in our possession, we will have it retooled," Kennedy said. "We'll build a wing and it is our sincere desire to find a vaccine partner — like Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson — and say, let us fill some of the capacity that the American patient needs."

    The Lexington County-based company is currently undergoing a $215 million expansions which includes a 110,000 square foot vaccine production space. Kennedy expects at least 380 new jobs with the expansion.

    About 300 of those could be centered around the vaccine production and she hopes to partner with a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer to fill vaccines and help ramp up vaccine supply.

    Nephron is currently working to find a vaccine partner. It could be Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, or it could be another brand who could receive authorization in the U.S., Kennedy said.

    "Between now and the time we move in there, there could be 10 new ones, so we're keeping our eyes and ears open," Kennedy said.

    They've already hired about half the people they need. The building is still being worked on but once it's completed, Kennedy believes the production lines could be operational by the summer.

    The expansion, originally announced in July, will also include a new office, a new warehouse, expanded secondary packaging operations and a 20,000 square foot machine shop.

    In the meantime, Nephron Pharmaceuticals already partnered with Dominion Energy to set up a drive-thru vaccination site in Lexington County in February.

    "I had this idea that why can't we help the vaccination," Kennedy said. "We have nurses on staff and we have [doctors of pharmacy]."

    Dominion Energy provided the space and set up a temporary power pole for Nephron's nurses and staff. They also enlisted the help of Rick Lee, a Department of Environmental Control board member from Rock Hill, on how to best setup a drive-thru clinic.

    Like health systems across the state, Nephron is running this clinic out of their own pocket. Vaccines and ancillary supplies are supplied by the government, but staff and other costs are not.

    "We're not getting reimbursed for any of this," Kennedy said. "We're doing this out of the bottom of our heart."

    The drive-thru site has ramped up from about 30 vaccinations per day when it first opened to about 150 vaccinations per day by March. Kennedy hopes to get this up to 300 per day.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Company has processed over one million COVID tests see more

    Diversified Medical Healthcare (DMH), a holding company with four subsidiary healthcare companies, Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS), CPT Medical, OnGen, and Vessel Medical, has provided leading-edge solutions to combat COVID-19 nationally, addressing supply chain gaps and infrastructure restrictions caused by the virus. Their molecular diagnostics laboratory, PMLS, became the first lab in South Carolina validated as an independent COVID-19 testing lab one year ago. Just as PMLS achieved this validation for testing shortly after the first case was reported in the US, they continue to meet demands caused by COVID-19 as they arise with their laboratory staff of over 360 employees and in-house research and development team of Ph.D. scientists. Along with large scale testing via state of the art automated lab equipment, DMH companies developed advanced software for most efficient data management, distributed customized PPE supply kits, and manufactured COVID-19 testing kits as well as viral transport medium that properly preserves specimens during transit. 

    “Since COVID-19 became a threat to our nation, we quickly streamlined our workflow, hired employees, validated various coronavirus assays, and purchased the equipment needed to test a large volume of specimens with the highest quality standards,” said Kevin Murdock founder of Diversified Medical Healthcare. “With our laboratory having one of the highest testing capacities in the nation, an in-house medical manufacturing firm, a lab equipment company, and data management software company, we feel that it’s imperative to do our part to help keep the country open and our citizens safe.”

    At this one year mark, PMLS has processed over one million (1,000,000) tests to determine COVID-19 results for patients nationwide. With their highly advanced laboratory information management system (LIMS) created by OnGen, data is communicated directly from high throughput laboratory equipment for fast, accurate storage and delivery of data to healthcare providers and patients. Many of PMLS’ lab processes are automated to allow them a testing capacity of 300,000 tests per day. With this scalability, PMLS has enabled other laboratories and testing sites to increase their testing capacity and turnaround of results with Virtual Lab. An innovative COVID-19 testing solution to overcome laboratory infrastructure restrictions, Virtual Lab allows these facilities to utilize PMLS’ fully-automated robotic workflow and team of 360 employees to largely increase their testing capacity and efficiency while bypassing the need to purchase new equipment or endure waiting time of weeks or more for shipping, installation, and validation. Along with helping other labs, hospital systems and large organizations to test more patients, Diversified Medical Healthcare has donated hundreds of thousands of masks to local law enforcement, paramedics, fire departments, hospitals, and the Shriners organization and has provided free testing to first responders during the pandemic.

    As another means to aid laboratories, healthcare systems, and large organizations in the expansion of their COVID-19 testing, Vessel Medical offers Lab in a Box, turnkey lab equipment that comes with everything needed for professional laboratory level diagnostics for COVID-19, Flu A and B, upper respiratory, STD/UTI, cancer risk screening, pharmacogenomics, and antibiotic resistance testing. Developed by leading scientists and technicians in partnership with Hamilton Company, Thermo Fisher, and Grenova, Lab in a Box enables a high capacity of onsite diagnostics for hospitals, expanding laboratories, schools, and large companies in need of quick and accurate testing results. With precision robotic instruments, lab in a box includes high throughput liquid handling along with automated, custom-programmable pipetting that decreases human error and result turnaround time.

    Another DMH company, CPT Medical, shifted their production of surgical supplies to include manufacturing of COVID-19 testing kits since the beginning of the pandemic. CPT Medical is now capable of manufacturing 60,000 test kits per day and works in conjunction with PMLS to offer customizable testing to large organizations. Some of the large organizations that PMLS has partnered with as the official COVID-19 testing lab are the United Soccer League (USL) and Division I/Division II teams in 7 collegiate conferences as well as large schools and business organizations across the US. PMLS is also the processing lab for Human Health Services surge sites and state health departments in South Carolina, Arizona, Utah, and North Carolina and is the Blue Cross Blue Shield preferred COVID-19 testing lab in Texas, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Through all of these partnerships, PMLS has continued in their reputation of delivering the most advanced testing with rapid, reliable results, and diligent customer care.

    Now, as vaccines are administered and restrictions on social distancing are being lifted, PMLS is conducting a critical large scale genomic sequencing for the surveillance of new COVID-19 variants, taking proactive measures so that a future surge of a mutated Sars CoV-2 strain is less likely to occur. The data collected from genomic sequencing can help pharmaceutical companies to stay ahead of the variants and make any changes needed to the current vaccines and treatments for higher efficacy and best patient outcomes. With PMLS’ high throughput genomic sequencers and library prep instruments that automate the library prep and sequencing process, a much higher capacity for genomic sequencing is achieved and margins of human error are drastically reduced. By sequencing an exponentially higher amount of specimens, PMLS is better equipped to provide meaningful analysis with larger amounts of data and faster turnaround times for the effective surveillance of SARS-CoV-2. PMLS is in discussions with the CDC and multiple states across the nation to provide COVID sequencing services at ports of entry and local and regional hotspots.  Along with this and their previous accomplishments, more groundbreaking COVID-19 solutions by Diversified Medical Healthcare are soon to be announced.

    For more information, please visit www.divmedinc.com or call 866-521-7541.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Orangeburg, SC bio-ag facility included as part of acquisition see more

    Syngenta Group has announced the acquisition of Valagro, a leading Biologicals company, by its business unit Syngenta Crop Protection. The investment positions Syngenta Crop Protection as one of the key global companies poised to shape the rapidly growing Biologicals market, which is set to nearly double in size over the next five years. Valagro will continue to operate as an independent brand in the market within the Syngenta Crop Protection business.

    Valagro, a leader in the development, production and marketing of biostimulant and advanced nutrient solutions for cash and row crops, began construction of its Orangeburg, South Carolina plant in October 2019 with a groundbreaking ceremony, which was attended by members of the local community, esteemed guests, state representatives, as well as members of federal government.  Consistent with Valagro’s commitment to innovation, the now-operational plant has introduced cutting-edge technologies for the production of plant biostimulants and chelated micronutrients in the United States. The opening of the production site also created nearly 50 new advanced manufacturing jobs.

    Valagro is a market-leading producer of innovative Biologicals, with a ~10% CAGR from 2009-2019 and an approximate revenue of $175m in 2019. The company has excelled by harnessing the power of nature to provide innovative and effective solutions for plant nutrition and care. With 40 years of experience, it offers its customers a comprehensive crop portfolio in Biologicals with a market-leading position in biostimulants and speciality nutrients. Headquartered in Atessa, Italy, Valagro serves customers around the world with a strong presence in Europe and North America, as well as a growing footprint in Asia, including China, and LATAM. Valagro has over 700 employees, 13 subsidiaries and 8 production sites around the world, with a portfolio backed by best-in-class biological R&D, production and commercialization capabilities.

    This strategic acquisition enables Syngenta Crop Protection to build a world-leading Biologicals business. Valagro has a strong commercial and production standing, as well as an industry-leading technology and research capacity. Valagro's well-established portfolio in biostimulants and specialty nutrients will complement both Syngenta Crop Protection's current range of biostimulants and biocontrols, as well as its future pipeline of biological solutions. Biocontrols and biostimulants, natural solutions for pest, disease control and crop improvement, are increasingly important for farmers worldwide in their efforts for sustainable agricultural production. This acquisition is fully in-line with Syngenta Crop Protection’s strategy to provide growers with additional complementary choices of products and technologies in order to effectively and sustainably care for their crops by managing resistance, enhancing soil health, reducing residues in crops, and addressing consumer demands.

    Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta Group stated: “We are looking forward to welcoming the Valagro team to Syngenta Group. This acquisition underlines our growth ambitions in this area and positions us as one of the strongest players in the global biologicals market. The investment also forms part of our $2 billion commitment to help farmers address the effects of climate change and improve agricultural sustainability as part of our Good Growth Plan.”

    Giuseppe Natale, CEO Valagro said: “For 40 years our mission at Valagro has been to harness nature in order to help farmers achieve higher yields and grow better quality crops. This agreement will open up new, previously unimaginable growth prospects for the Valagro group worldwide. Now that we are part of a company with the resources and ambition of Syngenta Crop Protection, we have exciting new opportunities for our innovation to better deliver even more options for farmers and to invest even more effectively in the sustainable future of agriculture.”

    Jon Parr, President Global Crop Protection at Syngenta noted: “Significant levels of investment in innovations such as Biologicals are necessary in order to deliver a sustainable future and help farmers deliver a food system working in harmony with nature. Syngenta Crop Protection and Valagro have a foundation in science-based innovation and are eager to collaborate, share knowledge and build on each other’s capabilities. By fostering the entrepreneurial spirit and culture of Valagro, powered by our global scale and capability, together we will shape the future of the agricultural Biologicals market.”

    The financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.

    About Syngenta Group

    Syngenta Group is one of the world’s leading agriculture innovation companies, with roots going back more than 250 years. Its 48,000 people across more than 100 countries strive to transform agriculture through breakthrough products and technologies that play a vital role in enabling the food chain to feed the world safely, sustainably and with respect for our planet. Swiss headquartered and Chinese-owned, the Group draws strength from its four business units – Syngenta Crop Protection headquartered in Switzerland, Syngenta Seeds headquartered in the United States, ADAMA headquartered in Israel, and Syngenta Group China – that provide industry-leading ways to serve customers everywhere.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    $30.2 million investment will create 425 new jobs see more

    Pall Corporation (Pall), a global leader in filtration, separation and purification, today announced plans to establish operations in Spartanburg County. The company is creating 425 new jobs and investing $30.2 million into a new facility that will support the rapid development and production of vaccines and therapeutics, including a COVID-19 vaccine.

    Pall serves the needs of customers across the broad spectrum of life sciences and industry and works with clients around the world to advance health, safety and environmentally responsible technologies.

    Located at 816 Berry Shoals Road in Duncan, Pall's new facility will focus primarily on single-use technology such as the Allegro™single-use platform.

    The facility is expected to be operational in May 2021. Individuals interested in joining the Pall team should visit the company's careers webpage.

    The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to the project.

    QUOTES

    "Spartanburg County provides Pall with the diverse workforce we need to manufacture life-saving therapeutics and vaccines. We look forward to building our presence in this county." -Pall Life Sciences President Joseph Repp

    "Pall Corporation's decision to invest into South Carolina comes at a time when our life sciences sector has evolved into one of our fastest-growing industries. The continued development of life sciences will create high-paying jobs that will ensure wellness and prosperity in South Carolina for years to come." -Gov. Henry McMaster

    "We could not be happier with Pall Corporation's decision to invest in Spartanburg County. We welcome this globally recognized company to South Carolina, and we look forward to partnering with them going forward." -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt

    "The decision by Pall Corporation to come to Spartanburg is a win for our county, and a win for our budding life sciences sector. The variety of investments coming into our county, and the diversity of the industries that now call Spartanburg home, is a sign that our future is bright in the years to come." -Spartanburg County Councilman and Chairman of the Economic Development Committee David Britt

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Study shows diagnostic test effective for providing conclusive genetic results see more

    GREENWOOD, SC – The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC), working with collaborators at Lawson Health Research Institute in Canada and the University of Amsterdam, published a study this month that provides clinical validation of EpiSign, a molecular genomics test that diagnoses rare, heritable neurodevelopmental conditions. GGC has been the sole US laboratory provider of this novel diagnostic test since 2019.

    EpiSign analyzes changes that affect gene expression rather than the gene sequence. Researchers have found that certain genetic disorders display unique genomic patterns, or epigenetic signatures, allowing for a diagnosis through EpiSign when traditional genetic testing has been uninformative.

    The laboratory testing in the US is performed at GGC while the analysis of the results is performed using machine learning at Lawson where the EpiSign Knowledge Database was developed. This database compiles information on rare genetic diseases using laboratory analyses of the epigenetic signature from patients with suspected genetic abnormalities.

    The current study analyzed data from early EpiSign testing to validate the ability of the novel test to make a diagnosis. Epigenetic signatures have been identified for over 40 genetic disorders.

    The analysis studied EpiSign test performance and diagnostic yield in 207 subjects from two different cohorts. A targeted group included patients with previous genetic findings that were ambiguous or inconclusive. The second screening group was those with clinical findings consistent with hereditary neurodevelopment syndromes but with no previous genetic findings.

    “Of the 207 subjects tested, 57 were positive for a diagnostic episignature including 48 in the targeted cohort, and 9 in the screening cohort. Only four remained inconclusive after EpiSign analysis,” says Dr. Bekim Sadikovic, lead researcher at Lawson and Scientific and Clinical Director of the Verspeeten Clinical Genome Centre at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). “This gives us strong evidence for the clinical use of EpiSign, as well as the ability to provide conclusive findings in the majority of subjects tested.”

    While currently there are limited treatment options associated with many of these conditions, providing a diagnosis can help physicians better predict the course of the disease, and allows for better planning and support for the patient. EpiSign is the only test in the world that has been clinically validated for epigenetic testing for these types of genetic disorders, and in the US, is only available through GGC.

    “Patients with rare diseases often wait years and undergo numerous exams and tests before receiving a correct diagnosis, if one is found at all,” says Matthew Tedder, PhD, staff scientist at the Greenwood Genetic Center, who was involved in the study. “EpiSign provides an additional high-yield diagnostic tool for clinicians to include in their evaluation of patients with undiagnosed diseases, providing better medical management for patients and hope for their families.”

    The study, “Clinical epigenomics: genome-wide DNA methylation analysis for the diagnosis of Mendelian disorders", is published in February’s Genetics in Medicine.

    For more information about EpiSign, visit, www.ggc.org/EpiSign.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Executive Partnering, Virtual Exhibit Hall Add Draw for Power of Us Conference Feb. 16-17 see more

    With conference registration surging more than 20% past prior record levels and the addition of a “singularly significant innovation announcement focused on cancer treatments and precision medicine advancement”, SCBIO's “The Power of Us”  virtual conference Feb. 16-17 is preparing for its largest gathering ever next week... delivered virtually to registrants from across the Palmetto State plus 25 states and 8 countries.

    Adding to the excitement is a just-scheduled “major innovation announcement” by a South Carolina company, in tandem with West Coast and German allies, that has significant implications for cancer diagnosis and treatment on a global level, organizers say.

    Already in excess of 500 registrants from across America and around the globe, the acclaimed SCBIO conference – the annual gathering of South Carolina’s life sciences community – will also celebrate the rapid growth of the industry and the contributions of its 800+ organizations in helping America and the world overcome the brutal COVID-19 pandemic.

    South Carolina life sciences has seen a doubling of firms and 40% increase in life sciences’ direct employment since 2017, which combine to make it the fastest growing industry sector in the state, according to recent data provided by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, the state's research economist and noted economic development expert with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

    “Dr. Von Nessen’s data validates that the life sciences industry in South Carolina is experiencing stunning growth, thanks to the combined efforts of our state’s economic development teams, industry partners, research universities, elected officials and other partners,” said SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros.  “It’s an exciting time to be a part of an industry that is saving lives and improving quality of care.”

    The industry has a $12+ billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 800 firms located in 42 of 46 counties across the state and over 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotechnology products.

    Organizers are tight-lipped about the Innovation Announcement details, which will be unveiled at 8:30 a.m. on the second day of the conference—February 17. 

    “We will say that the implications of the announcement include a new technology that has the ability to detect cancers at the earliest time ever, to further lifespans, and to unlock a new era of precision medicine, ” said Mr. Konduros.

    Adding to the draw of the conference are scores of organizations from across America showcasing their capabilities in a virtual exhibit hall, direct 1-to-1 executive meetings on demand via a Partnering Portal, major industry awards and – naturally – top speakers.

    Committed presenters include BIO Global CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath; Microsoft Vice President Jamie Harper, who leads the global team supporting higher education and K-12 initiatives; and Bill Stadtlander, Commercial Leader of Verily, the Google subsidiary focused on life sciences and use of health data and AI to improve lives.

    Also speaking at SCBIO 2021 are Courtney Christian, Senior Director of Policy and Research at PhRMA and former leader of the Black Women's Health Imperative; Dr. Harris Pastides, former USC President and outgoing chair of the SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health; Dr. Pat Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health; and Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, Dean of the USC School of Medicine - Upstate and Chief Academic Officer of Prisma Health Upstate, among others.

    Themed “The Power of Us,” the 2-day SCBIO 2021 virtual event will feature sessions on The Power of Innovation, The Power of Partnership, and The Power of People – each a fundamental force which drives the state’s surging $12 billion industry that is a key contributor to South Carolina’s expanding knowledge economy.

    The conference will also feature SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros delivering the “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, and release of SCBIO’s 2020 annual report

    Leaders already registered to attend include executives from Presenting Sponsor Vikor Scientific, Champion Sponsor Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Keynote Sponsor Medpoint, Pinnacle Awards Sponsor Softbox and others.  Leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating include BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Ritedose Corporation, Rhythmlink, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Zverse, Abbott, Alcami, SSOE – Stevens & Wilkinson, and more.  All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and others.

    Registration is open online at the 2021 Virtual Conference section of www.scbio.org.  Registration is free to employees of most SCBIO investors and supporters as well as to students interested in life sciences careers, while faculty and teachers can attend the entire conference for $25.  General admission tickets are available for as little as $75.  Virtual Exhibit  space and sponsorships are also available by inquiring at info@scbio.org.

    For additional information on SCBIO or to register for SCBIO 2021, visit www.SCBIO.org.