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  • 28 May 2020 2:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Haley Hop to Spend Summer Supporting the Alabama Bioscience Community  

    BIO Alabama welcomes a second student into it’s summer internship program, a program for college students who are intrinsically curious about Alabama’s bioscience industry and are motivated to promote the intellectual and innovative capital that make our state a premier place to invest, start, and grow in bioscience. 

    Haley Hop, a Master of Science in Economic Development student at The University of Southern Mississippi, was recently accepted to BIO Alabama’s summer internship program. 

    “My coursework focuses on the elements that push data-driven economic development,” said Haley Hop. “Paired with my undergraduate degree in civil engineering and my passion for science, an internship with BIO Alabama provides an incredible opportunity to put my education and passion to work.” 

    Hop will spend her summer conducting research on tactics, techniques, and strategies that will help BIO Alabama develop an economic development roadmap focused on business attraction and retention, workforce development, and startup and tech transfer within the bioscience community. Part of that research includes an industry survey that is currently open to all bioscience stakeholders around the state. The survey will be followed by a series of focus group sessions that are scheduled for June. Hop will assist in collecting, compiling, and translating data into a consumable report. The final report will be presented at BIO Alabama’s annual conference in October. 

    “There are a number of career pathways that allow students to work in bioscience including economic development,” said Sonia Robinson, Executive Director of BIO Alabama. “Bioscience can be intimidating. An internship with BIO Alabama provides an opportunity for students to learn more about Alabama’s bioscience industry and the diverse career tracks that are available,” Robinson adds. “Growing and supporting our researchers, scientists, and business leaders requires diversity in thought, knowledge, skills, and abilities.”

    BIO Alabama provides remote internship opportunities throughout the year. In addition to BIO Alabama, a number of bioscience companies across the state welcome interns. Interested students may contact BIO Alabama for more information. Bioscience companies who have available internships are encouraged to send internship opportunities to BIO Alabama for assistance in promoting those opportunities to partner colleges and universities.  

    Interns support the executive director in further connecting our bioscience ecosystem. Internships with BIO Alabama are for college credit and follow the college or university's internship guidelines including minimum hour requirements and deliverables. 

  • 15 May 2020 12:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The iC-COVID19 Assay™ expands coronavirus testing

    May 14, 2020 (Huntsville, Ala.) – iCubate®​ ​, provider of accurate and affordable syndromic diagnostic testing, announces the launch of the iC-COVID19 Assay™. As the demand for testing increases, iCubate now offers the iC-COVID19 Assay to expand needed coronavirus testing.

    Diagnostic testing continues to be a key part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease. In the United States, there have been over 1.3 million COVID-19 cases, resulting in 80,000 deaths.

    “Many regions of the country are facing barriers to COVID-19 testing. iCubate was eager to join the fight and developed the COVID-19 test for hospitals, clinical laboratories and temporary collection sites in major cities and small towns," said Carter Wells, CEO of iCubate.

    Targeting the S gene and the ORF1ab gene of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, iCubate’s COVID-19 assay was designed to test people exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus disease. By using the iC-COVID-19 Assay, a result can be generated in less than 6 hours from the time of sample collection.

    “Testing is key to controlling the coronavirus pandemic and the availability of precise and automated tests has been a limitation in many areas,” said Fran White, Founder and President of Regulatory Affairs of MDC Associates. “iCubate’s easy-to-use assay offers another option for laboratories to consider in the fight against COVID-19. The iCubate system is highly reliable and easy to install and implement in any laboratory setting.” Ms. White and the MDC team work with in vitro diagnostic and medical device companies in the US and around the world as they move innovative products through regulatory processes to positively impact patient health.

    With a goal of reducing exposure for front line healthcare workers, each iC-COVID19 Assay ​is performed in a single-use, closed, disposable cassette that is pre-loaded with the reagents necessary to provide a qualitative answer from a single patient sample.

    The iC-System has previously earned two 510k FDA clearances for the iC-GPC Assay™​ and the iC-GN Assay™​ ​. These assays rapidly detect and identify potentially pathogenic gram positive bacteria and gram negative bacteria, respectively, which are associated with blood stream infections and subsequent sepsis. Additionally, the FDA has designated iCubate’s iC-Myco Assay™​ a “Breakthrough Device” for the detection and identification of potentially pathogenic non-tuberculosis Mycobacterium, a major cause of pulmonary infections.

    iCubate has submitted the iC-COVID19 Assay to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization for the detection of the virus that causes COVID-19. iCubate’s submission is currently pending with the FDA.

    Video: iC-COVID19 Assay™ - For the Front Line

    Video: iC-COVID19 Assay™ - For Everyone

    ###

    About iCubate®​
    iCubate is a molecular diagnostic company providing diagnostic solutions to clinical laboratories. Founded by Jian Han, MD, PhD, iCubate’s core technology, Amplicon-Rescued Multiplex PCR (ARM-PCR), detects multiple pathogens concurrently with high sensitivity and specificity within each assay. The portfolio of “sample in-answer out” assays operate on an integrated, intuitive and user-friendly closed system. The end result is improved turn-around time for pathogenic organism identification and detection of important antimicrobial resistance markers. Offering a scalable, cost-effective platform, iCubate offers accurate testing for labs of any size. See ​iCubate.com for more information.

    Forward-Looking Statements

    Some statements in this press release may be “forward-looking statements”. iCubate cautions that these forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. iCubate undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


  • 13 May 2020 10:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) today unveiled a first-of-its-kind, interactive tracker of the new treatments and vaccines in the COVID-19 pipeline. This online resource illustrates the unprecedented campaign being undertaken by biopharmaceutical innovators to combat – and ultimately eradicate – the novel coronavirus. 

    Unlike other tracking tools, BIO’s Industry Analysis Team has identified funding sources from the onset of each project; de-duplicated multiple programs and trials for the same drug; and pinpointed the locations of companies discovering these important innovations. The tracker also organizes and categorizes projects in ways that will help public and private sector funders more strategically and holistically assess and prioritize programs to speed their advancement. 

    Here are some key takeaways:

    • In the fight against COVID-19, more than 400 unique drug programs were launched in just 16 weeks, including 101 experimental vaccines and 138 programs aimed directly at the SARS-CoV-2 virus;
       
    • Private-sector innovators are responsible for more than 90% of vaccines and therapeutics in development to protect individuals and communities from COVID-19;
       
    • More than 70% of COVID-19 R&D is being undertaken by small companies; and
       
    • More than 50% of this important work originated on American soil. 

    Among other features, the tracker breaks down the programs by types of approaches, or modalities, being tested to combat COVID-19, and includes information about type of organizations and companies involved in developing the molecules, funding the research, and sponsoring trials. Sourcing of drug names and phase of development comes from BioCenturyBiomedtracker, and international BIO affiliate organizations.

    As scientists and researchers work around the clock to develop therapeutics and vaccines to fight against COVID-19, this tracker will be updated weekly on Mondays to ensure you have the most recent information available.

    To learn more, click here.

    To learn more about how the biopharmaceutical industry is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, click here.


  • 11 May 2020 10:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sarah Everett to Spend Summer Supporting Alabama’s Bioscience Community 

    BIO Alabama’s summer intern program serves college students who are intrinsically curious about Alabama’s bioscience industry and are motivated to promote the intellectual and innovative capital that make our state a premier place to invest, start, and grow in bioscience. 

    Sarah Everett, a Master of Biotechnology student at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, was recently accepted into BIO Alabama’s summer internship program. 

    “BIO Alabama has been an incredible resource for our Master of Biotechnology program. My peers and I have had the opportunity to work with the organization on various research projects,” said Sarah Everett. “I love science but have an interest in learning more about business operations, especially marketing, and gaining knowledge, skills, and abilities beyond the laboratory.”

    Everett will spend her summer supporting back office operations, marketing, and event planning to further the mission of BIO Alabama, the state affiliate of Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the leading advocate for Alabama’s bioeconomy. 

    “Internships present an incredible opportunity for students to translate their knowledge, gain experience, and build their network,” said Sonia Robinson, Executive Director of BIO Alabama. “We are thrilled to be able to offer an internship program designed to introduce our participating students to our bioscience community more broadly. Sarah will have the opportunity to plan and implement projects, support key initiatives, and play an active role in amplifying the work of our bioscience researchers, scientists, and business leaders.”

    BIO Alabama provides remote internship opportunities throughout the year. In addition to BIO Alabama, a number of bioscience companies across the state welcome interns. Interested students may contact BIO Alabama for more information. Bioscience companies who have available internships are encouraged to send internship opportunities to BIO Alabama for assistance in promoting those opportunities to partner colleges and universities.  

    BIO Alabama is a membership-based professional organization representing the state on a national and international stage. Interns support the executive director in further connecting our bioscience ecosystem. Internships with BIO Alabama are for college credit and follow the college or university's internship guidelines including minimum hour requirements and deliverables. 

  • 4 May 2020 10:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    To further our mission to keep the Alabama bioscience community connected, we are moving forward with our plans to host an annual conference in October. While the future look and feel of large gatherings remains uncertain, we are taking COVID-19 safety guidelines into consideration as we plan our conference. 

    One thing is certain, in order to deliver an exceptional event (whether in-person, digital, or a blended approach) we need your help in shaping the content and conference programming. We're looking for your feedback and suggestions regarding topics and speakers that will inspire, educate, and connect our researchers, scientists, startups, manufacturers, medium and large bioscience companies at our annual conference scheduled for October 7-8, 2020.

    Take the survey here.


  • 30 Apr 2020 6:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Collaboration Will Screen Human Taste Bud Cells with Small Molecule Libraries to Develop Easier Ways for Children and Adults to Take Bitter-Tasting Medications

    (Birmingham, AL) - DiscoveryBioMed, Inc. (DBM) has been awarded nearly $1.7 million over the next two years by the National Institutes of Health’s Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) program to find bitter taste blockers to improve medication compliance. This STTR award is administered by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) within the National Institutes of Health. Philadelphia-based Monell Chemical Senses Center is a long-time DBM collaborator. The new funds continue their five-year relationship to advance Monell’s proprietary human taste-cell technology to discover taste modulators.

    Building on their successful creation of bitter-responsive human taste bud epithelial cell (hTBECs) lines with earlier funding, this industry-academic partnership’s Phase 2 STTR is aimed at discovering bitter blockers, small molecules combined with bitter medicines and bitter-tasting foods to improve their taste.

    “We are humbled and honored to receive this continued funding from NIDCD,” said Dr. Erik Schwiebert, CEO and CSO of DBM. “With the prior Phase 1 funding, and additional, separate support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Monell and DBM, we showed that human taste bud cells in culture are a robust platform to study bitter taste and to identify bitter blockers.”

    “Most biopharmaceutical medicines have a bitter taste, and this is problematic for medication compliance, particularly in pediatric and geriatric populations,” said Dr. Nancy Rawson, Monell’s Vice President and Associate Director. “Also, many healthy foods, such as leafy vegetables and plant proteins, have a bitter taste that presents a challenge to widespread dietary changes needed for sustainably improving human nutritional health.”

    In previous work, Dr. Danielle Reed, Monell Associate Director, and DBM established hTBEC cultures from individual donor taste papillae tissues. “Our laboratory is interested in taste genetics and the ‘bitterome,’ the genome of the 25 or more bitter taste receptors in human taste buds. Linking genetics and taste behavior of human subjects to the biology of individuals’ taste cells is quite powerful.”

    Bitter taste antagonists discovered in initial hTBEC screens also blocked the taste of bitter medicines in a subset of human subjects. “This example demonstrates that a drug discovery approach using human cells to identify bitter blockers discovered antagonists that work in taste sensory studies of human participants,” said Dr. John Streiff, DBM’s Chief Chemistry Officer.

    DBM and Monell believe that the bitter-responsive cell cultures and bitter blockers they are developing will be valuable to the biopharmaceutical and food-and-flavor industry sectors,” “We are establishing a bitter blocker research consortium, where independent testing of these compounds by interested third parties can occur.” said Dr. Maureen O’Leary, Monell Director of Technology Transfer.

    The combined efforts to date, additional parallel efforts, and anticipated new industry-academia collaborations have also enabled DBM to form a new specialty unit focused on taste. Principal Investigators for Small Business: DiscoveryBioMed, Inc. (DBM) 

    About:

    DiscoveryBioMed, Inc. is in its 13th year of operation as a life sciences and biotechnology company focused on leveraging normal and diseased human cell platform technologies for its CRO services business and for its R&D programs. DBM is located in Birmingham, AL where it is leading an effort to build a critical mass of biotechnology companies in a new hub of the Deep South.

    The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1968, Monell‘s mission is to improve health and well-being by advancing the scientific understanding of taste, smell, and related senses, where our discoveries aid improving nutritional health, diagnosing and treating disease, addressing smell and taste loss, and digitizing chemosensory data. 

  • 20 Apr 2020 6:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nonprofit Operations & Marketing Internship

    You are intrinsically curious about Alabama’s bioscience industry and are motivated to promote the intellectual and innovative capital that make our state a premier place to invest, start, and grow in bioscience. Under the guidance and supervision of the executive director,  you will support back office operations, marketing, and event planning to further the mission of BIO Alabama, the state affiliate of Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the leading advocate for Alabama’s bioeconomy. BIO Alabama is a membership-based professional organization representing the state on a national and international stage. Your role as an intern will be to support the executive director in further connecting our bioscience ecosystem. This internship is for college credit and will follow your instructor’s internship guidelines including minimum hour requirements and deliverables. 

    What you will do:

    • Prepare bi-weekly e-newsletter drafts for executive director’s review and approval.

    • Assist with weekly social media posts and engagement.

    • Coordinate all details of events (both virtual and in person) including speaker invitations, speaker planning and  preparation, promotion, day of event setup, and event attendee follow-up.

    • Conduct market research as needed to better understand the State’s bioscience ecosystem and it’s assets. 

    • Update and maintain data in customer management system (CRM).

    • Assist in researching and planning BIO Alabama’s annual conference scheduled for October 7-8, 2020.

    • Participate in weekly planning & coaching sessions with the executive director.

    • Engage with state, regional, and national bioscience leaders. 

    What you already have:

    • Interest in learning marketing and social media for a state-wide, nonprofit, professional organization. 

    • Interest in learning how to plan and implement small/medium scale events.

    • Experience conducting research and possess strong written and oral communications skills. 

    • Ability to navigate a wide variety of business and social settings and enjoy taking the message of BIO Alabama to individuals and organizations not yet familiar with its mission.

    Submit PDF file of Cover Letter & Resume to: Sonia Robinson, Executive Director sonia@bioalabama.com

    DEADLINE: May 4, 2020



  • 9 Apr 2020 12:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alabama Minority-Owned Company Tackles Healthcare
    Disparities with Trust & Data Science

    Conversations around health disparities and the call for minority data amidst COVID-19 are gaining local, national, and social media attention. Over the last few days, it has been disclosed that the African American community is being hit harder by Covid-19 than others. There are many potential reasons for this disparity. More data is needed. One Alabama based minority-owned company, Acclinate Genetics, can help provide data to: the minority community, politicians, federal agencies and pharmaceutical industry. The data can be provided to the medical community at large, which often leaves out black and brown people in testing and yes, even in genomic research and clinical trials. Nearly 40% of Americans belong to a racial or ethnic minority, but the patients who participate in clinical trials for new drugs skew heavily white, in some cases, 90 percent. Acclinate is taking a step back and is calling for engagement and education, first, as it relates to health equity in drug development and vaccine development. Even in their business model, their focus isn’t the software as a solution data platform, it’s people first, then technology. 

    According to Acclinate Genetics Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Del Smith, PhD, health disparities is a much larger problem where economics, education, and healthcare must be evaluated. He cautions that if we’re not careful, once COVID-19 is no longer the headline, these conversations will end and no real solutions will be in place to impact long term, systemic change.  

    “These are new conversations around a real old problem, health disparities among minorities. COVID-19 is simply shining the spotlight on it now,” said Smith. “Yes, we need data, but first we need trust. We [Acclinate Genetics] cannot solve the entire problem, but we are hyper focused on solving the equity in drug and vaccine development problem by diversifying genomic research and clinical trials,” Smith adds. 

    Acclinate Genetics is gleaning lessons learned right from its own state, Alabama….the state where clinical trials came under fire after the misguided Tuskegee syphilis trial that spanned four decades from 1932-1972. A state where 95.64% of the land area has a rural status and many people have limited access to healthcare. A state where Acclinate Genetics was recently recognized as a winner of Alabama Launchpad’s business pitch competition. Interestingly, they feel that the state with a deep history of challenges related to race and clinical trials can be the state to provide a sustainable solution.

    “Trust begins with a relationship. The key to diversity is inclusion, at Acclinate we strive to include minorities in conversations, not as a statistic, as a human being. After living a life of adversity I understand many of the struggles minorities face first hand,” said Tiffany Jordan, Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer at Acclinate Genetics.

    Acclinate Genetics' approach to closing the health disparities gap starts with what they call activation points. 

    College Ambassadors: Acclinate Genetics is partnering with Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU), starting with the fifteen HBCU’s who call Alabama home and with support from state leaders. The goal is to engage college age students who are looking to increase knowledge about health issues and make a difference in personalized healthcare for all. Furthermore, they hope to position college students as ambassadors to ensure they are educating their families, communities and campuses, for the generations before and after them. 

    “Minority college age students are sandwiched between generations who need them. Their parents and grandparents need help navigating the health system. Their siblings, cousins and younger friends need help with making health a priority in an effort to break the cycle of common often preventable health issues among minorities, especially black, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity,” Jordan adds. 

    They plan to expand their ambassador program to Latino, Tribal, and Asian American associations, too. 

    Speech & Debate: Just weeks before the nation began social distancing, Acclinate Genetics partnered with the National HBCU Speech and Debate Association. The serious topic of health disparities among minorities was the issue debated at the National HBCU Speech and Debate Championship held February 28-March 1, 2020 at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas.

    Why speech and debate? To include minorities in the conversation and to expand the historic tradition of HBCU exceptionalism and societal equity through speech and debate excellence, free speech, and civic engagement.

    “To be included in the conversation around the efficacy of medications, the process to engage in a clinical trial, and the future health of our country and world is a trust problem, “ adds Jordan. “To be invited to the table and heard is so important. As a minority-owned small business founded in Alabama, a state with a difficult past in regards to clinical trials, we are ready to change the narrative.”

    Once educated & engaged, minorities are invited to join Acclinate’s enhanced Diversity In Clinical Trials (e-DICT) Program which uses data science to create personalized and actionable steps to impact change. The ultimate mission is to achieve health equity and personalized     

    healthcare for all by diversifying genomic research and clinical trials. The platform exists to provide meaningful information about how medicines work for people of color and minority populations. The e-DICT Program will engage and employ strategies to encourage greater participation among diverse subgroups that have consistently had low participation rates in clinical trials. 

    ###

    About Acclincate Genetics: Acclinate Genetics is a healthcare solutions provider integrating culture and technology to give commercial and government clients analytical healthcare insights. Our experts research, design, and implement solutions in the areas of healthcare analytics and participant engagement for genomic research and clinical trials. Located in HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Acclinate is a Veteran and Minority Owned Small Business located in an Opportunity Zone. Learn more at acclinategenetics.com. Connect on LinkedIn.


    Media Contact: 

    Tiffany Jordan

    tiffany@acclinategenetics.com

    (256) 322-2387 cell

    (256) 435-2800 Office



  • 25 Mar 2020 3:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Earlier this week we tuned into the BIO Coronavirus Collaboration Initiative Summit. Here, we translated our notes into a quick read. 

    For starters, Ambassador Deborah Birx, MD, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, made it clear that her expectations were high for our industry… “because you have delivered for us in the past.” 

    Key take-a-ways and resources for #ALBioTech:

    • Dr. Richard Whitley, Co-Division Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UAB, represented Alabama among a national roster of presenters. He spoke about the biology of the virus, symptoms, and the incubation period. Dr. Whitley stressed that the shortness of breath experienced is a key differentiator of COVID19 between the flu, common cold, and allergies. 

    • Domestic manufacturing capacity: Dr. Rick Bright, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), stressed the importance of mobilizing the industry to be able to scale up, scale out, fill-finish, and create redundancies with raw material supply chains by “leveraging existing partnerships and forging new partnerships.” Please help share the word among #ALBioTech manufacturers that we need them. They can register online at hub.bio.org to communicate what resources they have available and how they can contribute to the fight.

    • Request a meeting with a federal agency: The U.S. Government has provided a portal for the submission of market research packages and meeting requests strictly related to COVID-19. They are particularly interested in products and technologies that have progressed into or beyond non-clinical trials, have established large-scale cGMP manufacturing capability, or utilize an approved platform. Information regarding diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, and other products or technologies relevant to addressing this outbreak are sought. Please visit: https://medicalcountermeasures.gov/ to learn more. Due to the volume of requests, they ask that all submissions go through the portal. Please do not email individual agencies. 

    BIO Coronavirus Hub: BIO has created a Coronavirus Hub to coordinate the connection of companies with resources needed. hub.bio.org is a new platform for companies to post what information and supplies they need and what they can share, from RNA kits to pipette tips to general information and guidance. The goal is to maximize the efficiency of all of our companies to make sure we have the tools, the resources, and the capacities we need to win this war against the coronavirus. We encourage you to register on the site to have access to real-time updates.

    SBA Disaster Loans: In addition to “all hands on deck” regarding research, supplies, and resources. Further resources are available from the Alabama SBDC Network including assistance with SBA Disaster Loan application process. The SBDC Capital Access team, and all of our SBDC locations statewide are prepared to help businesses with the application process and any other Covid-19 related issues. Due to extremely high call volume, they are asking companies to register online at ASBDC.org/register, to help ensure that you are directed to the next available SBDC Business Advisor.

    Let's share joy and encouragement: There are positive and meaningful stories to share amidst this public health crisis. We encourage you to send us your stories to share and offer encouragement to our peers and colleagues around the state and beyond. Send your story to sonia@bioalabama.com


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Connecting the Bioscience Ecosystem in Alabama

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administrator@bioalabama.com

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