COVID testing expands in workplace see more
As industry begins to reopen across the state, life science companies turn their sights to expanding COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing options for the workplace.
Greenville-based lab Precision Genetics partnered with Prisma Health in early April to process the health care system’s COVID-19 tests within 24-hours of reaching the lab.
Now that this testing line is fully automated with the capacity to churn out about 1,000 samples in a matter of hours, the lab is developing plans for the next testing battleground with a high-throughput COVID-19 diagnostic program called “Precision Worker Safety” and a smartphone employee wellness app created by Questis that uses an RFID thermometer to report feverish temperatures to employers.
“Up here in Greenville, manufacturing is a huge, huge part of our economic situation, so we have to be able to provide employers some kind of assurance that their employees can come back to work without a rapid spread of the virus,” Nate Wilbourne, CEO and president of Precision Genetics said, adding that it is “naive” to think the state peaked in mid-April with so little testing.
He said Precision is working with several large self-insured manufacturing companies as well as poultry suppliers to develop a salvia-based testing strategy. Pending a state-supported grant that the lab applied for during the week of May 1, Precision will launch saliva-based testing within three weeks.
Other methods of testing face a waiting period before they can be implemented, while the app is several months away from release, he said.
“What we’ve developed is a combination approach to COVID-19 screening and an antibody test as it evolves, as the workforce is building up an immunity at the individual level, which reduces the spread over time,” he said. “Until there’s a vaccine or some type of therapy, that is the safest way to go about this.”
In late April, however, Wilbourne said current antibody tests led to a number of false positives and negatives.
“Unfortunately, antibody testing is not very reliable today, as it sits,” he said. “There are still a lot of gaps in the science regarding the sensitivities and specifications. Right now, there are 50 proteins in the coronavirus. Right now, we (the health science community) are testing for multiple proteins, but there’s no way to guarantee which protein creates immunity.”
He also said antibody testing can only detect antibodies a few weeks after individuals have recovered from COVID-19 but noted that the work of professionals like Dr. John Wrangle, Precision’s chief medical officer and medical oncologist at the Medical University of South Carolina, are heading up research to broaden the window of antibody detection and accuracy of the tests.
Sam Konduros, CEO and president of SCBio, said the life sciences economic development network is working to support continued research and implementation of both diagnostic and antibody testing across the state.
“Even from the beginning, we were trying to present every approved and available COVID-19 test kit option we were aware of, and as you can imagine, we are moving heavily into the world of antibody testing now too,” he said. Our primary goal in representing the life sciences industry in the state is to have a very ecumenical approach of what resources are available that can help employers reopen as safely as possible if working remotely is not an option.”
One way SCBio hopes to open those options to employers is making test kits readily available to state industries through the COVID-19 Emergency Supply Collaborative that SCBio helped develop with the S.C. Manufacturers Extension Partnership, the S.C. Hospital Association and S.C. Department of Commerce.
Created in early April with the goal of bridging shortages in personal protective equipment and other critical needs goods to health care systems, Konduros said the online portal also welcomes purchases from businesses, especially manufacturers, in need of South Carolina-made masks, disinfectant, test kits or a host of other high-demand products.
On April 7, Konduros also noted that antibody testing tended to be a less reliable indicator than diagnostic testing at this point, but he sees potential for companies to use both, especially as antibody testing becomes more sophisticated and “herd immunity” builds.
“From a diagnostic standpoint, there doesn’t seem to be a substitution for PCR testing, which is going to be the one way to confirm a diagnosis for someone with COVID-19, either someone who is showing acute symptoms or has had clear exposure, or is working in an environment where an employer would simply need to know there is that issue,” he said.
On the other hand, Konduros is intrigued by the potential of workforce antibody testing as research moves forward, especially with tests used by Abbott Laboratories, that detect IgG antibodies that remain in the bloodstream for several weeks after an individual recovers from COVID-19. He said that as the state moves into summer, Abbott is planning to release large quantities of IgG tests that are at least 98% accurate.
“I certainly think the antibody tests are going to innovate and improve over time, and there’s going to be a lot more data to see how people are responding who have had COVID-19 and what kind of immunity is being developed. There are just so many variables right now,” Konduros said.
South Carolina firm's NP Collection Swab offers a highly scalable injection-molded design see more
South Carolina-based Hoowaki LLC has developed an innovative one-piece injection molded design for a COVID-19 swab to help close the gap in U.S. and global COVID-19 testing supplies. The 12-year old micro surface engineering and product solutions company has adapted its proprietary HOOWAKI MICROGRIP® surface technology to create micro-pillars used in the Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab that is shown in clinical user testing to meet existing industry-standard products for flexibility and performance. In independent laboratory testing (qPCR Assay) it has also been proven to be equivalent to the industry-standard flocked filament swabs in the collection of patient RNA that is critical for COVID-19 testing. Mass-production of its FDA registered, patent pending, Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab will begin this summer and is expected to reach at least several million units per month.
"The Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab is an important answer to the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic," said Ralph Hulseman, president of Hoowaki LLC. "Our design allows for production to be quickly scaled in communities around the world—rapidly addressing the rising demand for swabs, a critically important element of all COVID-19 testing."
A recent study by Harvard University [https://ethics.harvard.edu/files/center-for-ethics/files/roadmaptopandemicresilience_updated_4.20.20_0.pdf] cites the need for up to 20 million COVID-19 tests per day by the end of summer. The proprietary Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab is manufactured using advanced injection molding technologies that utilize existing equipment that is readily available in communities throughout the world. The swab's scalability is due to Hoowaki LLC's formulations and engineering designs working at existing injection molding facilities, which enables the swab to be produced in quantities that meet local demands anywhere in the world.
"Prisma Health collaborated with Hoowaki LLC in the testing and development of the innovative new design. The soft feel and ease of use of the Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab tip impressed my team," said Jennifer Meredith, Ph.D., clinical microbiology director at Prisma Health-Upstate.
"Prisma Health is excited to see a locally produced solution that could help ease the shortage of swabs for COVID-19 sample collection," said Meredith. "Hoowaki LLC's product has the potential to help us meet our commitment to our patients in the fight against COVID-19." Prisma Health, the largest healthcare system in South Carolina, harnessed its Rapid Innovation Task Force to help with the project.
Hulseman credits several public-private partnerships that have helped to provide start-up funding for the swab's development: "As is the case for many businesses in today's environment, Hoowaki LLC adapted quickly to meet new challenges where demand is outpacing supply so we could remain not only viable as a company, but also pursue this pioneering technology. We're grateful for the backing of the Greenville Local Development Corporation (GLDC) and SC Launch, Inc., an investment affiliate of the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), who have been instrumental in helping us develop the Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab."
"Hoowaki LLC is a great example of a small business that has proven to be a powerhouse of innovation during a time of incredible challenge," said David Barnett, Chairman of the Greenville Local Development Corporation. "We are proud of our continued support for Hoowaki LLC in the development of the NP Collection Swab."
Hoowaki, LLC is a micro surface engineering services and product solutions company that has developed unique micro surface pattern designs, engineering algorithms, software and manufacturing know-how to address major markets. The company's micro surface technology provides grip or slip solutions in the form of films for medical devices, packaging and other industrial and consumer products. Their team includes experienced micro surface engineers, physicists, friction experts, medical device experts, entrepreneurs, inventors and developers. Hoowaki has market deployment partnerships with Havi (packaging) and BvW Holding AG (implanted medical devices). Hoowaki has a broad patent coverage of micro surface technology.
New life sciences incubator opens in WestEdge in Charleston see more
The Charleston Digital Corridor, which offers space for startups and early stage companies, has opened a new incubator in the WestEdge development.
The organization partnered with the city of Charleston for the facility, which focuses primarily on life sciences and technology companies in the mixed-use development located in the medical district near the Ashley River.
Executive Director Ernest Andrade said Flagship – WestEdge, the fifth facility operated by the Digital Corridor, is 100% full with Anatta, BiblioLabs, DentureCare, Vendr, Vikor Scientific, and Zeriscope.
The Digital Corridor’s facilities aren’t traditional incubators where companies operate in isolation with low-cost commercial space.
The Digital Corridor uses month-to-month leases and designs its Flagship facilities to provide a setting for businesses to engage with one another. The Digital Corridor goes through an extensive application process to ensure a complementary mix of companies as well.
Mayor John Tecklenburg said the city’s WestEdge incubator was part of Charleston’s commitment to help knowledge economy companies, which generally offer wages above the state and national averages, grow in the region.
“Our investment in the Flagship – WestEdge business incubator is a tangible sign of the city’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurship and economic diversity while contributing to our citizens’ quality of life with high-wage technical and scientific jobs,” Tecklenburg said in a statement.
The Digital Corridor plans to move its headquarters next year to a six-story building on Morrison Drive called the Charleston Technology Center. The entire second floor, 18,000 square feet, will be dedicated to providing commercial space for small businesses and startups similar to Flagship – WestEdge. Construction began last year.
Bill Tiller joins Greenwood Genetic Center Foundation see more
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) has named William ‘Bill’ Tiller as the new Executive Director of the GGC Foundation.
Tiller comes to GGC with a long and successful career in fundraising and development, working primarily in the areas of children’s health and advocacy. He has secured and directed approximately $43 million to support numerous nonprofit organizations including The Meyer Center for Special Children, Make-A-Wish Foundation of SC, and most recently served as President and CEO of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.
"We are thrilled to have someone with Bill's experience and passion for serving families who are affected by birth defects, disabilities, and autism," said Boo Ramage, outgoing Interim Executive Director of the GGC Foundation. Ramage stepped in to temporarily lead the 501(c)3 fundraising arm of GGC last July, successfully steering the final phase of the $1.56 million ‘Journey of Discovery’ campaign that supported several innovative technologies in research and diagnostic testing.
“GGC has been so fortunate to have strong philanthropic support throughout our history,” said Steve Skinner, MD, Director of GGC. “Bill brings valuable expertise as we expand our reach and advance our mission to serve families with compassion and expertise.”
“I feel a deep sense of calling to the mission of GGC, and I pledge to move the mission forward with purpose and joy," said Tiller. "I look forward to working alongside GGC’s distinguished professionals, in partnership with donors and investors, and in service to the many children and families who look to GGC for comfort and care."
To learn more about Tiller and the GGC Foundation, visit www.GGC.org/foundation.
Nephron announces new partnership see more
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies in the country, announced a new partnership with One Medical, a leading national digital health and primary care organization that combines 24/7 access to virtual care and digital health tools with COVID-19 testing services to businesses and employees.
“Re-opening businesses, and getting our economy moving again, is one of our highest priorities,” said Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy, who is a member of Governor Henry McMaster’s #accelerateSC, the coordinated COVID-19 advisory team tasked with recommending economic revitalization plans for South Carolina. “Part of the new normal for businesses is testing employees to make sure the workplace is safe. We couldn’t be prouder to offer COVID-19 testing services to our employees and neighbors.”
Kennedy and John Singerling, Chief Network Officer of One Medical and a longstanding healthcare executive based in South Carolina, are working together to make this partnership a reality, hoping that it serves as an example for businesses around the country.
The Nephron CLIA-Certified lab has procured state-of-the-art technology for COVID-19 real-time PCR testing and serological antibody testing for its own employees, and for employees of neighboring businesses. The lab intends to integrate with One Medical’s technology platform, which is capable of supporting a comprehensive workplace reentry COVID-19 testing program. One Medical’s virtual care solutions facilitate scheduling for specimen collection and digitally documenting those test results. It also screens and evaluates clinical risk factors and symptoms and supports employer tracking and reporting needs.
“I am very pleased to be working alongside the Nephron team to leverage One Medical’s digital health platform as a way to help get South Carolinians back to work safely,” said One Medical Chief Network Officer, John Singerling. “Currently working with over 7,000 employers nationwide has allowed One Medical to build a comprehensive workplace reentry program that is grounded in medicine and testing, and powered by our technology, which allows for seamless tracking, tracing and ongoing monitoring.”
SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests diagnose whether a person is infected with the virus by using technology that analyzes viral genetic material. Antibody tests check blood for antibodies. If present, antibodies indicate a person has been previously or is currently infected by the virus.
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation has been on the frontlines of the nationwide COVID-19 response. The West Columbia-based company develops and produces safe, affordable generic inhalation solutions and suspension products that can be used to treat severe respiratory distress symptoms associated with COVID-19. In addition, the company operates an industry-leading 503B Outsourcing Facility division which produces pre-filled sterile syringes and IV bags for hospitals across America, in an effort to alleviate their drug shortage needs. These products are used, many times, to sedate patients and keep them comfortable when health care professionals place them on ventilators in the fight against the virus.
$30 million bio-ag investment to create 107 new jobs see more
Yield Scientific, a subsidiary of GEM Opportunity Zone Fund, today announced plans to establish operations in Hampton County. The company’s more than $30 million investment is projected to create 107 new jobs.
Founded in 2017, Yield Scientific is a hemp growing and processing operation that specializes in clinical-grade product development for the health care industry. Through its brand, Victis CBD, the company offers CBD products developed with high quality standards and advanced science.
Located at Southern Carolina Industrial Campus in Early Branch, Yield Scientific’s new facility will enhance the company’s product development and manufacturing capabilities.
The new operations are expected to be online by the first quarter of 2021. Individuals interested in joining the Yield Scientific team should visit https://www.yieldsci.com.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project. Hampton County was also awarded a $50,000 Rural Infrastructure Fund grant to assist with costs related to this project.
“We are very pleased to join the Hampton County community of corporate citizens. Through Yield Scientific and the Victis CBD brand, we will invest over $30 million and create 107 jobs in a pharmaceutical-grade growing and processing complex within the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus in Early Branch. Our project would not have happened without the support and work of the SouthernCarolina Alliance team, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture and Hampton County.” -GEM Opportunity Zone Fund CEO Zeb Portanova
“We’re thrilled that Yield Scientific has chosen to invest in South Carolina’s growing hemp industry and her people, creating more than 100 good jobs in one of our state’s rural gems.” –Gov. Henry McMaster
“Our approach to creating a business-friendly environment for all types of companies continues to pay off, and Yield Scientific’s investment in Hampton County is a testament to that. I look forward to watching the company thrive here for many years to come.” -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
“Yield Scientific is a wonderful addition to South Carolina’s burgeoning hemp industry. Their greenhouse operations and processing capacity will create skilled agriculture jobs – and in an Opportunity Zone, no less.” -Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers
“We are both proud and grateful that this innovative company has chosen Hampton County as the home for their new operation. Each of the 107 jobs they are creating will affect the future of a family in our region, which is why economic development is so important to the quality of life in a community.” -Hampton County Council Chairman Clay Bishop
“Hampton County welcomes Yield Scientific to the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus. We are thrilled to have a state-of-the-art agribusiness producing food and nutrition products in Early Branch.” -Hampton County Economic Development Commission Chairman Bill Hager
“The visionary leadership of Yield Scientific and the GEM Opportunity Zone Fund will bring job opportunities and investment to our region while supplying the global food network with agricultural products grown through advanced scientific protocol. We believe this kind of innovation is more important than ever to our regional and state economies in the coming years.” -SouthernCarolina Alliance Chairman Marty Sauls
New leadership named at helm of BIO see more
The Executive Committee of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and its Board of Directors have announced the appointment of Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath to lead BIO at this pivotal moment in our organization’s history, effective June 1, 2020.
"With her background as a scientist and physician, her health policy and experience in federal government, her leadership within industry as a champion of scientific progress, her commitment as an advocate for patients, and her gifts as a communicator, Dr. McMurry-Heath is the right person at the right time to lead us into the future," the official announcement released today stated.
Dr. McMurry-Heath is a coalition-builder and change agent who comes to BIO from Johnson & Johnson (J&J). She served in numerous senior leadership roles at J&J since 2014, most recently serving as Vice President of External Innovation, Global Leader for Regulatory Science and Executive Director of Scientific Partnerships for JLABS @ Washington, D.C. There, she led a large global team charting the evidence generation and regulatory strategy across J&J’s medical device companies. And she worked to knock down regulatory barriers that were hindering the ability of small innovators to partner and grow.
Prior to her work at J&J, Dr. McMurry-Heath served in scientific leadership roles at the FDA from 2010 to 2014. Her driving purpose at the FDA was to devise strategies to incorporate the patient point of view into FDA decision-making and develop new ways for patients to collaborate with innovators.
BIO’s incoming leader is a clinician-scientist with experience working at the bench in molecular immunology. She is the first African-American to graduate from Duke’s Medical Scientist Training Program, receiving an MD/PhD in immunology along the way. While Harvard-educated, she was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area – one of the great epicenters of biotechnology.
Throughout her impressive career, Dr. McMurry-Heath has been focused on the social impact of medicine so that more people in our society can benefit from its transformative potential. She led health and science policy on Capitol Hill for Senator Joe Lieberman, where she drafted legislation to protect the country from biological attacks, and then went on to sharpen her policy skills at the Robert Wood Foundation.
Dr. McMurry-Heath will become just the third leader of BIO since our organization’s founding in 1993. She will succeed a towering figure in our industry, the Honorable Jim Greenwood, who for 16 years has built the most consequential biotechnology advocacy organization in the world. Mr. Greenwood was a champion of the cause even before he was BIO's leader, reforming the FDA and fighting for broad acceptance of stem-cell science during his 12 years of principled, pragmatic leadership in the United States Congress.
As BIO’s leader, Mr. Greenwood has brought incomparable political and policy acumen to bear on the needs of our industry. During his tenure at BIO and as the United States built an innovation ecosystem that is the envy of the world, he played a pivotal role. After he hands over the reins on June 1st to Dr. McMurry-Heath, he has committed to work with her and will stay on in a strategic advisory role. The industry and BIO are grateful for his outstanding leadership, professionalism and continued contribution.
Healthcare leaders address good, not so good in COVID-19 response see more
Four thought leaders from South Carolina healthcare’s executive ranks will address how SC health systems have responded to the impacts of COVID-19, compelling lessons learned, and what they see as the path forward for healthcare in the Palmetto State and beyond, in a free, public webinar to be held Tuesday, May 19 at 10 a.m. EST, officials have announced.
Featured panelists include Dr. Danielle Scheurer, Chief Quality Officer of MUSC Health; Dr. Alain Litwin, Health Sciences Center Rapid Innovation Task Force leader of Prisma Health; Thornton Kirby, CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association; and Matthew Roberts, Chair of Healthcare Practice of the Nexsen Pruet Law Firm. The webinar will be hosted and moderated by Sam Konduros, CEO and President of SCBIO. Participation is free and interested parties can register to participate at https://www.scbio.org/events/next-up-how-sc-healthcare-is-taking-on-covid-19.
The 60-minute program is meant to provide business leaders, elected officials and key stakeholders of South Carolina’s life sciences industry with a real-time status of the state’s healthcare climate two-plus months into the global COVID-19 pandemic, unique responses to this modern day plague, and how the public healthcare crisis has impacted both current and future delivery of healthcare. The panelists will also address a realistic path forward as South Carolina begins the move to return to normalcy while still navigating a virus with no clear endpoint.
“Our goal is to identify and discuss what South Carolina healthcare has done well, such as widespread implementation of telehealth, advances in equipment and testing, and partnering with other players and states to make a difference, while also addressing the state’s and nation’s challenges including limitations in our rural health systems, and a surprising level of dependence on drugs and equipment from foreign countries,” noted SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros.
“The panelists will also share their thoughts on important lessons learned, innovation opportunities and strategies for the future – identifying ways for organizations and the healthcare industry in SC to come together to collectively solve problems and improve treatment and quality of life for all South Carolinians,” he added.
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven public/private economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has an $11.4 billion annual economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 600 firms directly involved and 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products. The state-wide nonprofit has offices in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, and represents companies in the advanced medicines, medical devices, equipment, diagnostics, IT, and healthcare outcome industries. As the official state affiliate of BIO, PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members include hundreds of academic institutions, biotech companies, medtech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups.
For additional information on SCBIO, visit www.SCBIO.org.
Softbox Systems honored with national recognition see more
Tempcell® ECO, the latest sustainable innovation from Softbox Systems, a global provider of temperature control packaging for the life science industry, has been recognized by Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards—honoring companies, products and ideas that are making the world a better place.
According to John Hammes, General Manager of the America’s for Softbox Systems, Tempcell ECO’s innovative design addresses the challenges the pharmaceutical sector and the world face around plastics while offering the ease of curbside recycling for the end user.
“In the temperature-controlled shipping container space, we continue to push towards a more sustainable future - Tempcell® ECO is an innovative corrugated cardboard packaging system that protects temperature-sensitive life-science products and the planet,” he said. “It’s good for the pharmaceutical industry, great for the environment, and an even more sustainable solution for the world.”
Launched in the US in January 2020, Tempcell® ECO offers the pharmaceutical sector a 100 percent curbside-recyclable temperature control packaging system to support a more sustainable future for customers, consumers and the planet.
Made of the most reusable material on the planet, Tempcell® ECO is made from 100 percent recycled corrugated cardboard, and capable of being repurposed seven times over. This innovative packaging system saves end users from costly or unsustainable disposal, and drastically helps reduce pharmaceutical companies’ carbon footprint.
Using its own innovative corrugated cardboard insulating technology, Softbox Systems created Thermaflute™, a patent-pending design that is qualified against industry accepted test profiles. It is able to control temperature sensitive products with wide stability data in different temperatures ranges between +2°C to +25°C.
In combination with a number of temperature-regulating cool packs, layers of cardboard fluting are engineered to create an insulating barrier to protect life-enhancing, temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products during shipping. The fit-for-purpose design maintains a shipment’s internal temperature for up to 72 hours and is light, strong and versatile, ideal for all parcel delivery networks.
In partnership with American Forests, Softbox Systems pledges to plant one tree for every 10 Tempcell® ECOs sold in the United States. This equates to three trees being planted for each one used in production. Through the sale of Tempcell® ECO in the first quarter of 2020, Softbox Systems has already enabled American Forests to plant more than 20,000 trees.
The World Changing Ideas Awards entries were judged on the key ingredients of innovation: functionality, originality, beauty, sustainability, user insight, cultural impact, and business impact.
“There seems no better time to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, resources, and, in some cases, their scale to tackle society’s biggest problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have uncovered some of the smartest and most inspiring projects of the year.”
Now in its fourth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 26 winners, more than 200 finalists, and more than 500 honorable mentions—with Health and Wellness, Corporate Social Responsibility, and AI and Data among the most popular categories. A panel of eminent judges selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 3,000 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and more. The 2020 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Vancouver to Singapore to Tel Aviv.
About the World Changing Ideas Awards
World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With a goal of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.
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 over 20 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.
Clemson targets fix for mask shortage see more
(Courtesy, Paul Alongi, Clemson College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences)
Melinda Harman of Clemson University is volunteering her time to explore how hospitals could wash and sanitize medical masks without having to ship them elsewhere or buy an expensive piece of equipment.
A device that Harman designed to hold multiple N95 masks is central to her idea. It would help ensure the masks maintain their shape while being washed so that they continue to fit securely around the mouth and nose, said Harman, an associate professor of bioengineering and director of Clemson University’s Medical Device Recycling and Reprocessing program, or GreenMD.
The masks help prevent healthcare workers from inhaling the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and have been in short supply since the pandemic began.
As part of her work, Harman said she has engaged three leading healthcare companies that offer expertise in detergents and decontamination. She is testing different kinds of detergents to find the best solution for cleaning mucus and proteins from the masks.
The detergents are commercially available and already used by hospitals to clean other types of medical equipment.
Harman said that her goal is “to validate a cleaning process that is compatible with existing capabilities and equipment commonly available at hospitals in South Carolina and worldwide.”
The challenge is “to avoid interfering with mask performance, while effectively cleaning the masks without degrading their filtering capacity,” she said.
Harman added, “Working with innovative industry partners is a considerable advantage, with everyone on the team willing to contribute a potential solution. They are providing reliable products that are already proven to meet routine reprocessing challenges in healthcare delivery.”
Harman said one of the advantages to her approach is that many hospitals already have the ability to clean medical equipment, even if they aren’t yet applying it to the masks. That means hospitals wouldn’t need to buy any capital equipment, she said.
Further, the masks would stay at the hospital, reducing travel time, the risk of spreading contamination outside of the hospital and the additional burden on an already-stressed logistics system, Harman said.
“The technology I’m working on is meant to be used broadly, compatible with existing reprocessing practices that are already in hospitals,” Harman said. “It’s intended for rapid deployment in health care settings, and it’s meant to be compatible with any sterilization system.”
Harman added, “Cleaning masks before sterilization enables more masks to be reused Right now, guidelines for sterilization require N95 masks to be inspected and discarded if they are ‘soiled.’ My idea is to reliably clean masks to remove both the visible and ‘invisible’ soils, making the entire reuse process safer.”
Martine LaBerge, chair of the Department of Bioengineering, said that Harman is well qualified to lead the work.
Harman has conducted extensive research into reuse and reprocessing of medical equipment. As director of GreenMD, she engages students in industry-driven research targeting healthcare needs in South Carolina and broader global health challenges. GreenMD is the nation’s only engineering-focused program for medical device design targeted for reprocessing and reuse.
“Dr. Harman has built a career on developing innovative ways to reprocess and reuse medical equipment that is normally disposable, which uniquely positions her to have a global impact,” LaBerge said. “I thank her for her service to South Carolina, the nation and the globe as we join together in the face of the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19.”
Harman said that if her idea works, used masks would be sent to central sterilization facilities within hospitals. The device she designed would hold the masks while they are cleaned. After cleaning, the masks would go through a separate sterilization process to get rid of any lingering microorganisms, including coronavirus.
The mask-holder that Harman designed could be 3D-printed, she said. However, she is focusing on more rapid manufacturing approaches using common acrylic materials. The technology could be readily adapted in hospitals from South Carolina to India, Harman said.
She recently disclosed the technology to the Clemson University Research Foundation, setting it on the path to commercialization and raising the potential for widespread use.
Harman said what’s been most interesting to her is that her previous work with resource-poor countries has come home to the United States, with disrupted supply chains and inadequate supplies at the point of need.
“That’s exactly the situation we’ve been working on with other countries,” Harman said. “For me that’s just been a startling change. It’s been amazing to see how many people have become interested in the topic of safe and sustainable reuse and how many unique solutions they come up with. I hope that creative energy continues, because it can solve a lot of global health problems.”
Zylo, Hoth expand relationship see more
Mr. Robb Knie, Chief Executive Officer of Hoth, commented, “We are pleased to expand our partnership with Zylö and look forward to working together as our therapeutic for Lupus patients continues through the next phase of development. This small equity investment in Zylö is a further commitment to our belief in Zylö’s science and team.”
Stated Scott Pancoast, CEO of Zylö Therapeutics, “Partnering with Hoth in 2019 was an important step in propelling our lupus program forward. This equity investment in Zylö stock represents an expansion of the partnership and is a win-win for the two companies.”
According to estimates by the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), 1.5 Million Americans currently suffer from lupus, with 16,000 new cases reported annually. Tragically, lupus strikes mostly women of child-bearing age. Worldwide, the LFA estimates that at least five million people may have some form of the disease. Of the people diagnosed, approximately two-thirds will develop CLE. The annual average cost to provide medical treatment for a person with lupus: $6,000 to $10,000, with some treatment costing several thousand dollars a month.
About Zylö Therapeutics, Inc.
Zylö, dedicated to bringing innovative technologies to multiple facets of medicine, has an innovative sustained-release drug-delivery system that was developed by Joel Friedman MD PhD, Adam Friedman MD FAAD, and Andrew Draganski PhD. The delivery system uses patented xerogel-derived nanoparticles, called Z-pods™, to deliver—in a sustained and controlled manner—notoriously hard-to-deliver therapeutic agents through topical administration. For more information, please visit; http://www.zylotherapeutics.com/
About Hoth Therapeutics, Inc.
Hoth Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing new generation therapies for dermatological disorders. HOTH’s pipeline has the potential to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from indications including atopic dermatitis, chronic wounds, psoriasis, asthma and acne. Hoth has recently entered into a Joint Development Agreement to further the development of vaccine prospects to prevent, intercept or treat the Coronavirus (COVID-19) based upon VaxCelerate, a self-assembling vaccine (SAV) platform exclusively licensed by Voltron from the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). To learn more, please visit www.hoththerapeutics.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, statements that relate to the advancement and development of AEA-loaded Z-pods™, the commencement of clinical trials, the availability of data from clinical trials and other information that is not historical information. When used herein, words such as “anticipate”, “being”, “will”, “plan”, “may”, “continue”, and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements or information that refer to expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, performance or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions, are forward-looking. All forward-looking statements are based upon Hoth’s current expectations and various assumptions. Hoth believes there is a reasonable basis for its expectations and beliefs, but they are inherently uncertain. Hoth may not realize its expectations, and its beliefs may not prove correct. Actual results could differ materially from those described or implied by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including, without limitation, market conditions and the factors described under the caption “Risk Factors” in Hoth’s Form 10K for the period ending December 31, 2018, and Hoth’s other filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Consequently, forward-looking statements should be regarded solely as Hoth’s current plans, estimates and beliefs. Investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Hoth cannot guarantee future results, events, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Hoth does not undertake and specifically declines any obligation to update, republish, or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, future events or circumstances or to reflect the occurrences of unanticipated events, except as may be required by law.
mPact disinfectants a new weapon against COVID-19 see more
The father-and-son team behind Holly Oak Chemical, Jim and James Cashion, try their best not to use too many scientific terms when they explain what they do.
But sometimes it slips out anyway.
“We’re talking about covalent bonds here,” said Jim Cashion, the father in the duo.
“Which is basically like super glue,” his son James Cashion is quick to clarify. “You know, if you want to think of it in simpler terms.”
To put it even more simply, the Cashions are in the business of disinfectant — not the kind most are familiar with, like soap or hand sanitizer. Instead, they manufacture two products under the brand name mPact, which are made up of chemicals that almost everyone has come in contact with, but few people are aware of.
The active ingredients in mPact products — 3 (trihydroxysilyl) propyldimethyl octadecyl ammonium chloride — are not new to the market. Typically they’ve been used to spray on items like shoes or clothing that are shipped overseas, protecting them from bacteria and fungi that could cause them to fall apart. If you’ve unpacked a fresh pair of Nike sneakers, you’ve come in contact with those chemicals.
Environmentally friendly and EPA-registered, the disinfectant products are now being highlighted as a key weapon in the fight against the coronavirus. Unlike hand sanitizer, for instance, which evaporates within minutes, these chemicals have a unique ability to bond to surfaces, including human skin. Through covalent bonding, the disinfectant remains on the surface for up to 10 days, acting as a shield against viruses, bacteria and fungal infestations.
“The only way to get it off immediately is to sand it off or paint over it,” Jim Cashion said.
With widespread fear of infection unlikely to wane in the immediate future, the Cashions are advocating these chemicals as crucial for businesses where crowds are inherent, such as restaurants or move theaters, as well as for mass transit in general.
Monday Moment 5-4-2020 see more
SCBIO's latest Monday Moment arrives amidst the COVID-19 storm to provide meaningful and inspiring information in 3 minutes or less. This week, enjoy an uplifting reminder from University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy Dean Stephen Cutler saluting all those on the front lines of healthcare, plus helpful webinars, news on how SC is stepping up and the ever-popular 3 Great Links. Click here.
KIYATEC Adds Clinical and Reimbursement Experience to Board as Clinical Testing Validation ProgressesKIYATEC adds to its Board of Directors see more
KIYATEC, Inc. today announced the appointment of Bruce Nash, MD, MBA, to its Board of Directors. Dr. Nash brings over 30 years of executive-level healthcare experience in the managed care, hospital and medical group practice settings. Currently, he serves as Chief Physician Executive and Senior Vice President at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, one of the nation’s leading health insurance plans. During his career, Dr. Nash has held executive leadership positions in both managed care (Kaiser Permanente, Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan) and healthcare (Northern Berkshire Health System, North Adams Regional Hospital) organizations.
Dr. Nash serves on the boards of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation and the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI), while also serving on the Board of Strategic Advisors at the Excel Venture Management Fund and the Clinical Advisory Group at the Blue Venture Fund. He is a board-certified physician who completed his residency training at Duke University. Bruce earned his MBA in Health Sector Management from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Nash to KIYATEC’s Board of Directors,” said Robert Silverman, Chairman of the Board of Directors of KIYATEC. “Bruce’s relevant experience and vision as both a clinician and an expert in managed care will provide tremendous value as KIYATEC moves forward in the development of our predictive clinical tests to improve cancer patient care and outcomes.”
The addition of Dr. Nash to the KIYATEC Board of Directors comes as the company’s evidence development efforts continue to gain momentum:
- 3D-PREDICT Study (NCT03561207) of clinical tests to predict pre-treatment drug response to drug therapies for ovarian cancer and high-grade glioma continues to add study sites and enroll patients
- Pilot study publication entitled, “Prospective Validation of an Ex Vivo, Patient-Derived 3D Spheroid Model for Response Predictions in Newly Diagnosed Ovarian Cancer,” was recognized this spring by Scientific Reports (Nature Research) as being one of its Top 100 cancer papers of 2019 (of >1,000 published)
- Emerging evidence of I/O (immuno-oncology) drug response characterization to be presented via multiple posters at AACR in June
About KIYATEC, Inc.
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 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
Okra Medical donates face masks to 8 hospitals see more
Okra Medical, a life sciences start-up company based on Johns Island, South Carolina, donated nearly 100,000 healthcare face masks to eight hospitals and one pediatric group serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the masks are smaller in size to benefit children and young adults.
“Like many in America, the coronavirus brought our business to a standstill,” said Marshall Hartmann, CEO, Okra Medical. “We redirected our laboratory efforts to securing medical supplies to both help fund our payroll and to give back to our community.”
Okra Medical had planned to launch the company’s new pharmaceutical drug destroyer, SafeMedWaste in mid-March. Then COVID-19 hit. The leadership team started looking for ways to leverage their international relationships to support the company and the community. They landed on securing PPE for the healthcare industry.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the waves of donations received from the Charleston community. Most donors have said that they don’t need or want any thanks, they just want to help in any way they can, and assisting them by providing an avenue to receive has been an honor. As we try to stay focused and rise to the strategic challenges we’re all being faced with, the impact these donations are having, on both a personal and national level, is incredible.” Jennifer Simon, MUSC.
MUSC is one of eight hospitals benefiting from Okra Medical’s donations. The full list is:
- Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
- Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Charleston, SC
- Coastal Pediatric Associates, North Charleston, SC
- Prisma Health, Greenville, SC
- Shriners Hospital for Children, Greenville, SC
- Conway Medical Center, Conway, SC
- WakeMed Children’s Hospital, Raleigh, NC
- Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital, Pittsburg, PA
“We are thankful for the health care heroes willing to serve at a time like this,” said Hartmann. “Giving back is the easy part. U.S. Senator Tim Scott’s Office and SCBIO made donating even easier by providing helpful guidance to match donors with organizations in need.”
“The rapid response of Senator Tim Scott’s team allowed us to quickly get donation masks into the hands of people who needed them most,” said Justin Stas, Chief Technical Officer, Okra Medical. “We are very proud of the way our South Carolina community, from government to individuals, has come together during this difficult time.”
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven public/private economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has more than 675 firms, including Okra Medical, directly involved and 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products. The state-wide nonprofit represents companies in the advanced medicines, medical devices, equipment, diagnostics, IT, and healthcare outcome industries.
“We continue to be humbled by the amazing and impactful response to this public health crisis by SCBIO stakeholders like Okra Medical. Their gracious donation of thousands of critically important pediatric healthcare face masks to help ensure the safety of children in hospital environments during this global pandemic is a great example of Okra’s culture of servant leadership combined with their business expertise and innovativeness. We’re very proud and grateful that they are a highly engaged member of our organization,” said Sam Konduros, President/CEO of SCBIO.
A member of SCBIO, Okra Medical has developed and validated a patented product called SafeMedWaste that will simplify the way pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals, and individuals destroy and dispose of highly-addictive controlled substances like opioids. To learn more about the environmentally-friendly product, watch this video on the company website.
About Okra Medical Inc.
Okra Medical, Inc., headquartered in Johns Island, South Carolina, specializes in product development, manufacturing and strategic sourcing of controlled pharmaceutical substance disposal solutions. Founded in 2018, the Company’s mission is to improve public health. Its best-in-class suite of SafeMedWaste products use single formulas that are fully compliant with DEA regulations requiring non-retrievable destruction of controlled substances. Okra Medical is a strategic sourcing partner to hospitals, hospice facilities, law enforcement agencies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and veterinary care clinics. Visit www.okramedical.com.