SC company to play role in vaccine distribution see more
A South Carolina pharmaceutical company will play a huge role in getting a COVID-19 vaccine to the American people.
Columbia-based Ritedose Corporation announced Thursday it’s been named a partner in Operation Warp Speed and will be responsible for filling and packaging millions of vaccines.
ApiJect, a medical technology company that received $138 million from the federal government to produce the first 100 million COVID-19 vaccines, patented the vial in which the vaccine will be distributed. They needed Ritedose to produce and manufacture those vials with their blow-fill-seal technology.
Ritedose CEO Jody Chastain says more COVID-19 vaccines will be packaged and filled in Columbia than any other place in the country.
“It’s tremendously rewarding,” Chastain explained.
He and his employees did the near impossible, getting two 150,000 square-foot warehouses ready to package and fill the vaccines in only a few months.
“Typically, that would take anywhere from 18-24 months, but within five months, we were able to outfit the facility to be able to handle the vaccine,” said Chastain.
Ritedose has upped its staff by more than 10% to help handle the demand.
“The potential for the workforce here in Columbia is huge, as well as putting Columbia on the map in the response to COVID,” Chastain noted.
The company’s nearly 400 employees also learned Thursday the role they will play in distributing the vaccine.
“It’s been hush-hush around the facility,” said Chastain. “People know that we’ve been doing work around the facility to be able to handle a new product, but they were unaware of what the new product is. Making this announcement to the employees today was very exciting because they’ve been able to see a tremendous amount of pride that’s been able to go into the workforce to be able to handle the vaccine.”
As soon as a vaccine candidate receives FDA approval, Ritedose will work with the company to make sure the vaccine is compatible with their plastic packaging.
“We’re much more efficient,” said Chastain. “We can produce a higher volume in a shorter time period.”
Once the vaccine is rolled out, front line workers, like Prisma Health Baptist Parkridge doctor Jennifer Risinger, will be the first in line.
“I’m very encouraged that we’re looking at months instead of years,” said Risinger.
She says she and her colleagues are eager to get the vaccine.
“It does give us a sense of relief and confidence that we’ll be able to deliver the care that people here in the Midlands deserve,” she noted. “I think we should all be very proud that we have a local company who is this involved in bringing this to the national spotlight as soon as possible.”
Ritedose says it’s likely the first vaccines distributed in South Carolina will have been packaged and filled in Columbia.
Operation Warp Speed has a goal to produce and deliver 300 million safe and effective doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, with the first doses expected to be ready by January 2021.
Nephron expanding again in Columbia, SC see more
With promising news about a COVID-19 vaccine making headlines, Lou Kennedy had reason for optimism during a beam-raising ceremony marking a milestone for a $215.8 million expansion at Nephron Pharmaceutical Corp.’s Saxe-Gotha Industrial Park campus.
Part of the expansion is a 110,000-square-foot vaccine production, chemotherapy and antibiotic wing that Kennedy, Nephron owner and CEO, expects to be operational around March 2021. She said Nephron is actively looking for a vaccine production partner to provide the ammunition for the pre-filled sterile syringes that make up the booming 503B Outsourcing Facility arm of the company.
“It’s a Chamber of Commerce day,” Kennedy said after signing the final beam of the 240,000-square-foot Kennedy Innovation Center’s steel skeleton on Tuesday morning. “This marks a milestone in 2020. This is good news. This is giving us the space to continue to grow.”
Companies find ways to thrive despite pandemic see more
Seven months ago, John Carrington took a deep breath and pushed all his chips to the center of the table.
His Columbia company, ZVerse, was at a crossroads. Founded in 2013 as a 3D design and software solutions provider, the Shop Road outfit faced overwhelming demand for the protective face shield that had grown from an idea hatched to help local hospitals into orders multiplying into the millions.
“The first request we had was for 3,000 units, which we could solve, no problem,” Carrington said. “The next day it was 10,000, and the next day it was 50,000, and at that point we knew that 3D printing would not be able to keep up with that demand. … We had to place a bet.”
The wager involved shutting down for a few weeks to completely retool ZVerse’s production process to injection molding while scaling up from an 8,000-square-foot facility to a 30,000-square-foot one that could fill three tractor-trailers a day. Continue reading by clicking here...
Cold storage for vaccines could be an issue see more
News last week that a COVID-19 vaccine has shown a 90 percent success rate in testing has buoyed hopes that the coronavirus pandemic might soon be under control, but getting that vaccine to patients promises to be a logistics challenge.
The vaccine, developed by Pfizer Inc., has to be stored at temperatures of at least minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s approaching the lowest temperatures at the South Pole.
It’s also much lower than the temperatures experienced in typical cold-storage logistics. The refrigerated cargo containers that move through the Port of Charleston can achieve temperatures of below-30 Fahrenheit, but that fluctuates during summer months when outside temperatures are climbing. The coldest refrigerated container built by industry leader Thermo King can reach minus-76 Fahrenheit, but that’s still not cold enough for vaccine storage.
Zverse a hit on Amazon see more
The country's largest producer of branded face shields has made its top-selling products available for purchase on Amazon.
Earlier this spring, digital manufacturing company ZVerse created a first-ever PPE product to be marketed and sold directly to consumers: The ZShield, an ultra-lightweight, neck-mounted face shield designed to provide a comfortable, wearable barrier that helps users shield their face, mouth and eyes from spray, splatter, and the direct transfer of respiratory droplets. ZVerse has since produced over four million face shields, and now, several of its products are available for purchase on Amazon, marking another milestone for the company. All products are made in the USA.
"At the height of the COVID-19 impact on the U.S., we recognized our unique ability to quickly produce and provide valuable PPE to our front-line healthcare heroes, while also creating jobs and stimulating the local economy," said John Carrington, founder and CEO of ZVerse. "We have since grown our PPE product pipeline to serve a number of industries. We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to our partners and customers for helping us reach this milestone with Amazon."
Shoppers on Amazon now have access to four ZShield models, including the ZShield Health, the ZShield Flex, the ZShield Wrap and the ZShield Youth. ZShields can be purchased individually and in packs of two or five. Replacement shields for both the Flexand Wrap are also on sale in quantities of five or 10.
Based on industry and customer demand, ZVerse creates face shields that provide a threshold of hygiene for those seeking options for face coverings. ZShields allow for clear verbal and nonverbal communication and all-day comfort when masks or stationary sneeze guards are not practical, or when environments call for the use of both a shield and a face mask. The ZShield has completely disrupted the industry, bringing much-needed design innovation to the world of PPE and earning ZVerse a 2020 Innovation by Design Award from Fast Company. ZVerse is now producing hundreds of thousands of ZShields a day, which are all designed, sourced and made in the USA through an established domestic supply chain.
Moderna vaccine results looking very good early see more
The drugmaker Moderna announced on Monday that its coronavirus vaccine was 94.5 percent effective, based on an early look at the results from its large, continuing study.
Researchers said the results were better than they had dared to imagine. But the vaccine will not be widely available for months, probably not until spring.
Moderna is the second company to report preliminary data on an apparently successful vaccine, offering hope in a surging pandemic that has infected more than 53 million people worldwide and killed more than 1.2 million. Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech, was the first, reporting one week ago that its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective.
Pfizer and Moderna were the first to announce early data on large studies, but 10 other companies are also conducting big Phase 3 trials in a global race to produce a vaccine, including efforts in Australia, Britain, China, India and Russia. More than 50 other candidates are in earlier stages of testing.
Newly elected President's plans have major bearing on the medtech industry see more
While former Vice President Joe Biden and the team he builds won't take office for another two months, the campaign’s plans for COVID-19, healthcare and other policy areas offer clues to how changing tides in Washington may impact the medtech industry.
In approaching the top task at hand — getting the pandemic under control — the Democrat's plan includes proposals with implications for the industry, from how diagnostic testing is covered to access to telemedicine services.
In some ways, the act of swapping out administrations, regardless of who's in power, means device makers can anticipate shifts at key government agencies like the FDA.
MUSC Foundation for Research Development holds Vournakis NAI Induction Ceremony and Adm. Albert Baciocco Innovator of the Year ReceptionMUSC FRD honors innovators, patent recipients at virtual gala... see more
Congratulations to all of the honorees from the recent John N. Vournakis NAI Induction Ceremony and Annual Adm. Albert J. Baciocco Innovator of the Year Reception. Learn about teh honorees and this highly anticipated annual event right here!
News you can use about SC life sciences see more
Catch up on all the important reading around South Carolina life sciences -- and the national and global issues impacting it. It's all here, easy to read in just a few minutes, with dozens of helpful links. Enjoy!
Tempcell ECOTM is a recyclable paper-based temperature control packaging solution see more
Softbox, a leading global innovator and provider of temperature control packaging solutions for the pharmaceutical, life science, and cold chain logistics industries, recently launched its newest innovation --- Tempcell™ ECO -- in the U.S.
An award-winning temperature control parcel shipper that is 100 percent curbside recyclable, Tempcell™ ECO is composed of corrugated cardboard and uses Softbox’s Thermaflute™, a patent-pending, plastic-free design that creates an insulating barrier and delivers thermal efficiencies similar to those of traditional expanded polystyrene shippers.
This biodegradable packaging solution is designed to transport wide-stability temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products and comes in four, easy-to-assemble, flat-packed sizes, saving space during delivery and storage. Custom sizes are available on request.
“Today, the challenge is two-fold: develop innovative shipping solutions that provide uncompromising performance coupled with practical recyclability that protects the planet,” said John Hammes, General Manager of the America’s for Softbox Systems. “For biopharma clients working with Softbox, the value of a solution like Tempcell™ ECO is its ability to routinely ship prescription products, over-the-counter medicines, and diagnostic kits with complete reliability and a clear conscience by reducing plastic consumption—and offering the ease of curbside recycling for end-users.”
Fast Company recognized Tempcell™ ECO recently as one of its 2020 World Changing Ideas, an award honoring companies, products and ideas that are making the world a better place.
2020 Temperature Control Packaging Sustainability Report
In an ongoing effort to be one of the most innovative and socially responsible companies worldwide, Softbox Systems is proud of its sustainable initiatives that advance product innovation for good. The brand recently published a 2020 Temperature Control Packaging Sustainability report, which addresses how the sustainability movement in the life sciences industry impacts temperature-controlled packaging products and solutions.
The report reinforces the growing demand for packaging solutions that are efficient, effective and eco-friendly. Pharma, diagnostic and medtech companies, often drivers for change, are setting clear targets to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint. Seventy percent of the senior managers and directors surveyed state that the development of sustainable temperature control packaging solutions is significant to their operations and their organizations’ sustainability ambitions. These sustainability goals are, in turn, influencing partners, suppliers, and vendors to provide more planet-friendly solutions.
Softbox Systems has earned a Silver Sustainability Rating from EcoVadis, the world’s most trusted business sustainability rating service measuring and helping advance a company’s impact on the Environment, Labor & Human Rights, Ethics and Sustainable Procurement.
Further, in partnership with American Forests, Softbox Systems pledges to plant one tree for every 10 Tempcell™ ECO sold in the United States and Canada. This is the equivalent to three trees being planted for each one used in production. Through the sale of Tempcell™ ECO in the first half of 2020, Softbox Systems has already enabled American Forests to plant more than 25,000 trees in reforestation projects stretching from Minnesota to Oregon.
Learn more about Tempcell™ ECO online, or view the complete the findings from the 2020 Temperature Control Packaging Sustainability report here.
About Softbox Systems
Softbox Systems is an award-winning temperature control packaging innovator that has been designing and producing high performance passive temperature control packaging solutions for more than 25 years. We offer consistent quality to our clients from our strategically located global manufacturing sites throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, India and Asia Pacific.
Softbox Systems has formed long standing partnerships with the world’s leading pharmaceutical, clinical research, biotech and logistics companies, and apply innovative thinking to overcome the challenges that our clients face in managing the Cold Chain when shipping temperature sensitive clinical trial and commercialized products.
Vigilent Labs to call Charleston, South Carolina home see more
Compliments of Charleston Post and Courier
Congratulations to our colleagues in Charleston County for this excellent announcement, advancing the growth of life sciences in South Carolina. Read the full story here.
A technology firm with ties to the U.S. defense industry said Thursday it will invest nearly $105 million in a facility on the former Navy base in North Charleston that the company says will manufacture COVID-19 test kits.
Vigilent Labs said it will hire 400 workers to produce FDA-approved test kits that can detect COVID-19 antibodies and antigens in 10 minutes or less.
Manufacturing will begin in December and the company said it also will move its headquarters to the site at 1105 Truxton Ave. Vigilent is currently based in Alexandria, Va., near the nation’s capital, and it was incorporated in Wyoming. Read on for full details.
Clemson start-up getting noticed see more
When innovation and expertise meet practicality, the result is not quite magic, but it sure is close.
This is the strength behind Aravis BioTech, a startup headed in part by Jeffrey Anker of the College of Science and John DesJardins of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, as well as Dr. Caleb Behrend, an orthopedic surgeon in Arizona specializing in the spine. The team is developing screws used in orthopedic surgery that employ easy-to-use sensors to determine the status of fracture healing. This, in turn, helps physicians know when patients can safely apply weight to their healing fracture.
Aravis BioTech is one of three finalists for the InnoVision Technology Development Award. InnoVision is a non-profit organization that fosters the growth of South Carolina’s innovation economy and recognizes leadership, innovation and technological excellence.
“My background is in analytical chemistry – which means I make sensors,” said Anker, a professor in the Department of Chemistry.
Anker and DesJardins, a professor in the Department of Bioengineering, met on a bus at a student NASA project at the Marshall Space Flight Center in 2010. The pair decided to bring their work together to develop a medical implant that would change color as a fracture healed. Through a grant from SC BioCRAFT (Bioengineering Center for Regeneration and Formation of Tissues) and an NIH grant, they developed screws that changed color based on how tight they were.
But Dr. Behrend, a spine surgeon and longtime friend and collaborator of Anker’s, said that such a sensor would be more practical if surgeons could see it on an X-ray.
“Most Americans will break a couple of bones, on average, in their lifetime,” Anker said. “If it’s a bad break and you can’t just put a cast on it, they need to put in hardware. That’s where those screws come in.”
An X-ray doesn’t show how well a bone is healing. Between the break and full healing, there is an intermediate phase where the repaired fracture can and should bear weight – the question is how much.
“Maybe it can take your weight for a bit, but it will eventually fatigue and fail,” Anker said. “Similar to a paper clip, I can bend it a lot, but if I go back and forth, back and forth, eventually it will fail. The same thing happens with these implants. That’s a huge problem.”
Consider a hip fracture. Anker said one in 10 Americans will break hips. Rather than replacing the hip, the most common repair is to secure the ball back to the femur with a simple screw.
“People are encouraged to bear weight immediately, but if it’s not healing, the screw will probably eventually cut out of the bone or there will be other mechanical failures,” Anker said. “That happens rarely, but when it happens, it’s devastating.”
The screw is positioned into the bone repair with a wire guided through its hollow core. Aravis BioTech’s implanted device enhances the screw.
“We add a straight piece to the bottom of the hollow screw so that when it bends, this straight piece moves relative to the screw casing,” Anker said. “We make that straight piece out of a material that is dark on X-rays. You can see how much the screw is bending, quantify how much load is on it and be able to track the patient’s progress.”
The implant can help surgeons determine whether the device has been tightened sufficiently during surgery. And because load can lead to postoperative failure, it can help determine whether the patient is at an optimum activity level or if activity needs to be reduced until further healing takes place. Once the bone has healed, the hardware typically stays in and becomes superfluous.
A technology translation grant from the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (ICORPS) program to Clemson University allowed the Aravis team to interview a variety of stakeholders, including physicians, patients, physical therapists, insurance executives and hospital administrators to determine if the team is making a device that best meets the needs of patients. A South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) Acceleration Grant helped fund prototypes.
The team is expanding the idea to plates and other devices, as well as to sensors that can track infection based on chemical changes.
In addition to Aravis BioTech’s honor as an InnoVision Technology Development Award finalist, all four finalists for InnoVision’s COVID-19 Response – Technology Research Award are from Clemson University, including the COVID Microbead Screening Project, a team mentored by Anker, which also won the Clemson COVID Challenge, a summer virtual research and design opportunity. The team investigated a quick COVID-19 test that uses minimal, easily accessed equipment.
VentureSouth Named Top Ten see more
Compliments of MidlandsBiz
VentureSouth announced that it has been recognized as one of the top 10 angel investment groups in North America for the 3rd time.
The ranking comes from the Angel Capital Association, which released its 2020 Angel Funders Report this week. VentureSouth was recognized in the study as a top 10 angel group based on both total investments (30) and capital deployed ($12.7M) in 2019. VentureSouth was also recognized as a top 10 group by the ACA in 2018 and by CB Insights in 2014.
The Angel Capital Association is the largest association of angel groups in the world, with more than 250 angel groups and other early stage investors with over 14,000 members. Its members include many of the leading angel groups in the world.
VentureSouth was listed in this year’s top 10 alongside some of the largest and most well-respected angel groups in the US and Canada, including Tech Coast Angels in California and New York Angels and Golden Seeds in New York.
VentureSouth Managing Director Paul Clark commented: “We are honored to be recognized again as a top 10 angel group by the ACA and are proud that the repeat award recognizes our continued growth and the consistency of our approach to early-stage investing. We appreciate our highly engaged investors who are helping us accelerate investments in promising ventures across the Southeast.”
To learn more about VentureSouth, visit https://venturesouth.vc.
Charleston, Vikor Scientific featured in national media see more
Empty hotel rooms, half-full offices, and shuttered retail. The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the most established commercial real estate asset classes, creating short-term financial crunches and raising long-term secular concerns as remote work is tested and e-commerce rates rise.
Other asset classes, once alternatives, have become institutional investing gold standard. Logistics assets such as warehouses are providing a punch to the portfolio of the world’s largest landlord, Blackstone.
As industrial real estate investing becomes more crowded, and many of the other large asset classes slump, attention is turning to life sciences real estate — or space that’s used by pharmaceutical and biotech companies for research, development, and even manufacturing of new diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines.
The life science industry had been growing rapidly before the pandemic, attracting $17.4 billion in venture capital funding in 2019, up 370% from $3.7 billion in 2008, according to a Cushman & Wakefield report. Funding has continued to pour into the sector, even as coronavirus has slowed down venture funding overall, creating demand for more lab space.
Nephron employees achieve Lean Six Sigma green belt certification see more
If there were ever a time for improved efficiency to help a fast-moving company, it would be now for Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp.
With the West Columbia-based manufacturer of sterile respiratory medication churning out product at a record pace during the COVID-19 health crisis, owner and CEO Lou Kennedy is in search of every competitive advantage available.
“In spite of my Southern accent, I do move like a New Yorker, and this company goes at that pace,” she said. “It’s a testament to the team here that everybody’s running on high-test, premium unleaded, and keeping up.”
The most recent example came when nine Nephron employees achieved Lean Six Sigma green belt certification after completing courses at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. Six Sigma or lean manufacturing, pioneered by the likes of Henry Ford and famously implemented by Toyota in the years following World War II, is a systematic method aimed at reducing waste and variation to improve production quality and efficiency.