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  • 14 Nov 2020 7:32 AM | Deleted user

    On the closing day of the first annual Southeast Life Sciences conference, the AdvanSE Life Sciences Conference, we want to congratulation the winners of our awards and PitchRounds.

    Southeast Life Sciences awards include awards for best initial funding, best venture funding, best strategic partnership, best M&A, and best IPO. The winners of these are as follows. These awards go back more than a decade from both Southeast BIO and the Southeast Medical Device Association prior to the merger. Some of the biggest success stories from the southeast have been included in these awards and we expect the same big things with our winners this year!

    • For best Initial Funding (seed or angel), the winner is Acclinate Genetics, from Huntsville, Alabama.
    • For best Venture Funding (>$1mm from institutional investors), the winner is Embody Inc., from Norfolk, VA
    • For best Strategic Partnership, the winner is SiO2, of Auburn, Alabama
    • For best M&A, the award goes to AskBio, from RTP, NC, which was acquired by Bayer AG.
    • For best IPO, the award goes to Shattuck Labs, from Durham, NC and Austin, TX

    SE PitchRounds this year took in more than 70 applications from across the region for only 22 slots. These 20 companies represented the most exciting technologies and some of the most experienced entrepreneurs in the region. From the initial 22, we selected four finalists that presented on the closing day of the conference. The finalists were Embody, Inc., MoterumHeamGen, and Stuart Therapeutics.

    The winners from the bipharma/diagnostic group was Stuart Therapeutics.

    The winner from  the medtech/digital group was Embody, Inc.

    Congratulations to Everyone!

  • 12 Nov 2020 7:57 AM | Deleted user

    This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No 596/2014. The person responsible for making this announcement is David Bishop, Director of Investor Relations.

    Croda International Plc (“Croda” or “the Group”), the speciality chemical company that uses smart science to create high performance ingredients and technologies that improve lives, today announces that it has recently entered into an agreement with Pfizer Inc. to supply novel excipients used in the manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The contract with Pfizer runs for five years and awards Croda an initial supply contract for four component excipients used in the production of the vaccine candidate for the first three years of the contract. Demand remains subject to relevant approvals.

    Croda’s recently acquired subsidiary, Avanti Polar Lipids, Inc. (“Avanti”), specialises in the development and production of high-purity lipids, to produce research and clinical trial quantities of excipients in order to stabilise formulations and enable delivery into the body by parenteral mechanism (injection) for drug and vaccine applications. Croda’s existing health care business has a 20-year track record in developing IP-rich, innovative technologies for drug delivery systems for the pharmaceutical industry and has been working with Avanti, prior to and since its acquisition by Croda, to refine the complex processes involved in achieving the volumes of high-purity excipients required by its pharmaceutical customers. Croda has reprioritised investment, resources and other projects across the Group over the last few months to focus on the delivery of this project.

    Commenting on the new contract, Steve Foots, Chief Executive Officer, said:  

    “I’m very proud of Croda’s involvement in the battle to fight the most significant pandemic that we have seen in a generation. The application of our innovative capabilities is testament to the strong progress we have made to create industry-leading drug delivery systems, focused on developing speciality excipients and adjuvants to improve the effectiveness and stability of complex drug actives and vaccines. It is another example of why our Purpose - Smart Science to Improve Lives – sits at the heart of our strategy and will continue to drive our priorities and ambitions in the years ahead.”

  • 9 Nov 2020 10:29 AM | Deleted user

    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 systems (CRM)

    • Participate in weekly planning calls with the executive director.

    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

    DEADLINE: January 29, 2021

  • 3 Nov 2020 8:41 AM | Deleted user

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – October 15, 2020 – Kailos Genetics announces the launch of Assure Sentinel, a first-of-its-kind workplace viral suppression program that tests organizations for COVID-19 on a frequent and recurring basis.

    The Assure Sentinel program reduces the challenges of COVID-19 testing in the workplace. Samples are acquired using the easy and painless ViraWash™ saliva collection system, eliminating the need for nasopharyngeal swabs. Additionally, testing is performed with ViralPatch™, the company’s proprietary viral capture and sample pooling methodology, and next generation DNA sequencing to decrease costs and increase testing sensitivity.

    “Pooling dozens of samples together has been standard in blood banking for decades. The Assure Sentinel program is helping to suppress COVID-19 and returning people to the workplace,” says Brian Pollock, Chief Executive Officer for Kailos Genetics.

    Regular COVID-19 testing can mean a reduction in employee anxiety and a rise in confidence and productivity. "Safety is, and has always been, our number one priority during the pandemic, and the Assure Sentinel program is helping us continue to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees," said Julia Michaux-Watkins, Director of Human Resources at HudsonAlpha.

    Kailos is offering the workplace testing program to companies, non-profit organizations and schools directly and via partnerships with healthcare organizations. The first partnerships announced include Huntingdon College (Montgomery, AL) and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology (Huntsville, AL).

    “Since the beginning of the pandemic, Huntingdon College identified access to testing as a key element to our ability to responsibly reopen our campus to our students, faculty and staff for the fall. We have been fortunate to find an Alabama-based partner to provide a reasonably priced, efficient testing option, which has been critical in successfully mitigating the spread of COVID-19 on our campus,” says Jay Dorman, Treasurer and Senior Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Administration at Huntingdon College.

    For more information on Kailos Genetics Assure Sentinel program, email

    Kailos Genetics is a leader in innovative, cost-effective solutions that make genetic screening accessible to everyone.  Kailos provides genetic and COVID-19 testing through partnerships with physicians, health systems and employers around the world.


  • 3 Nov 2020 8:32 AM | Deleted user

    Huntsville, AL  (October 19)  – GeneCapture, a company developing products for commercial and government applications for point of care diagnostics, announced today the world’s first multi-pathogen identification using non-amplified RNA detection. Its 1 hour ‘sample to answer’ CAPTURE PLATFORM™ is on track for commercialization within two years.

    “We made history today – this is the first time an automated rapid pathogen identification has been reported directly from the sample, with no modification or amplification of its genetic source, in about an hour,” said GeneCapture CEO Peggy Sammon. “We envision a future where finding out why you are sick can be solved almost anywhere, in an hour, and without being chained to a lab. Infection detection will soon be portable, fast, and inexpensive. Just as the shift from relying on central computers to desktop and handheld devices enabled entirely new markets, so will decentralized, portable multi-pathogen infection detection.”

    GeneCapture’s unique disposable cartridge enables its point of care vision for rapid, inexpensive multi-pathogen identification. Whether the illness is bacterial, viral, fungal or protozoan, a single test will pinpoint the cause. The novel technology consolidates sample prep and molecular signature detection in one plastic cartridge with a ‘one button’ portable reader.

    Rick Myers, PhD, President, Science Director and M. A. Loya Chair in Genomics at HudsonAlpha says, “GeneCapture’s approach, an array-based genetic fingerprint based on direct RNA hybridization, is an innovative way to simplify the process and cost of responding to infections. Their recent demonstration of Sample-to-Answer pathogen identification is a major milestone for this industry.”  

    The significance of a non-amplified solution is in the logistics. Without a need for enzymes, the test cost and complexity drop dramatically, allowing non-medical personnel to perform multi-pathogen tests without access to a lab. This ease of use will open up new markets for infection detection at schools, day care centers, clinics, veterinary offices, nursing homes, airports and field hospitals. The cost per test is forecasted at only $20 for each disposable hand-sized cartridge.

    GeneCapture’s future products will screen a human/animal sample for up to 200 pathogens in less than an hour.  Their CAPTURE PLATFORM™ (Confirming Active Pathogens Through Unamplified RNA Expression) requires neither enzymes nor refrigeration and will have an expected shelf life of over a year. The product is envisioned for point of care applications including remote rural health and military operations. 

    The initial molecular binding concept was conceived at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and licensed to GeneCapture, which is an associate company at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology - one of the world’s leading genomics centers. The company has since filed an additional 11 patents, built prototypes, and performed successful pre-clinical validation tests. In addition to the commercial applications, the company has been awarded multiple Department of Defense contracts to mature the technology for potential far-forward military operational use.

    The closed cartridge accepts a direct sample (urine, blood, swab) and then concentrates and exposes the pathogen’s RNA fragments to the custom DNA probes on an array. Once the RNA is captured, the specific probes activate an optical sensor. The pattern across the array identifies the pathogen. Limits of detection have been validated and are currently clinically relevant for most bacterial infections, and are being optimized for viral infections.

    Louise O’Keefe, PhD, Director of the Faculty and Staff Clinic at UAH, and an advisor to GeneCapture says, “Our industry needs a breakthrough in turnaround time for diagnostic results.  GeneCapture’s approach could transform that challenge we deal with every day.”

    The GeneCapture team has briefed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on its approach and has begun the process to prepare for the clinical testing required for FDA clearance. 

    The company is in discussions with industry leaders for various applications in health care infection detection. 




    Photo caption: GeneCapture’s disposable cartridge integrates sample prep and pathogen identification in its rapid, portable ‘sample-in answer-out’ pathogen identification platform.

    About GeneCapture: GeneCapture is developing products for commercial and government applications for point of care diagnostics. The company’s patented CAPTURE PLATFORM™ performs direct RNA hybridization to rapidly identify infectious disease organisms from urine, saliva and blood. The ability to detect up to 200 pathogens from a single run at an expected price of $20 sets the CAPTURE PLATFORM™ apart. With the addition of antimicrobial susceptibility testing to their offerings, GeneCapture is in a position to bring the capabilities of a microbiology lab to point of care applications and to underserved locations in the U.S. and around the world. 

    About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to developing and applying scientific advances to health, agriculture, learning, and commercialization. Opened in 2008, HudsonAlpha’s vision is to leverage the synergy between discovery, education, medicine, and economic development in genomic sciences to improve the human condition around the globe. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. The state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education and fosters more than 40 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit

    About UAH: Launched from America’s quest to conquer space, The University of Alabama in Huntsville is one of America’s premier doctoral-granting, research-intensive universities. Located in the second largest research park in the United States, UAH has robust capabilities in astrophysics, cybersecurity, data analytics, logistics and supply chain management, optical systems and engineering, reliability and failure analysis, rotorcraft and unmanned systems, severe weather, space propulsion, and more. UAH prepares students for demanding positions in engineering, the sciences, business, nursing, education, the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

  • 2 Nov 2020 3:30 PM | Deleted user

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala., October 27, 2020 –Transomic Technologies, a leading functional genomics laboratory located on the campus of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, announced today that it has become a member of’s VIP Program. Only laboratories that achieve a high customer satisfaction rating and that commit to maintaining superior customer service are invited to join the program.

    “ puts our portfolio of cutting-edge functional genomic services in front of thousands of pre-qualified research customers, “said Blake Simmons, CEO of Transomic Technologies. “The platform helps us get the word out about our latest tools and technologies and helps improve our digital reputation through positive reviews for our products, services, and customer support.”

    Transomic Technologies helps life science researchers move their work forward faster by offering genomic tools and services that use next generation strategies such as CRISPR Cas9 gene editing technologies. Transomic works directly with the researcher to understand their goals and to provide the best solutions to accomplish those goals.

    “Transomic Technologies is a rapidly-growing genomics tools company that has built a reputation for offering innovative technologies,” said Kevin Lustig, PhD,’s Founder and CEO. “We are thrilled they have joined with other exceptional laboratories in our VIP Program to offer high-quality, competitively-priced services and a commitment to outstanding customer service.”


    About Transomic: Transomic Technologies offers life science researchers one of the industry’s most comprehensive portfolios of lentiviral-based functional genomics tools. These tools use next generation technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 to advance discovery research. Transomic uses their genomic tools to accomplish custom service projects for several major pharmaceutical companies, ranging from knockout cell lines to CRISPR screening assays. Learn more at

    About is the pharmaceutical industry’s leading AI-powered marketplace for outsourced R&D. The marketplace simplifies R&D sourcing, saves time and money, reduces risk, and provides access to the latest innovative tools and technologies. operates private enterprise marketplaces for most of the world’s major pharmaceutical companies, over 80 biotechnology companies, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Visit to learn more.

    Follow on social media: LinkedInTwitterYouTubeFacebook, and Instagram

    Follow Transomic Technologies on social media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

  • 7 Oct 2020 1:23 PM | Deleted user

    The Alabama Defense Advanced Manufacturing Community (ADAMC) consortium has been awarded a $3.7 million Department of Defense (DoD) grant under the Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program (DMCSP) by the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA). The ADAMC consortium is tasked with utilizing this grant to undertake a $6.2 million project to focus on the visibility, workforce training and adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies in the region, with an emphasis on the modernization of aviation, missiles and ground vehicle systems.

    This award follows a competitive selection process culminating in Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment’s designation in August 2020 of six Defense Manufacturing Communities (DMC).

    The ADAMC comprises 22 counties that will focus on supporting and growing the capabilities of the defense industrial base (DIB) in Alabama. The ADAMC will pull together existing programs throughout the region like Auburn University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Manufacturing Systems (ICAMS), and The University of Alabama’s Initiative on Manufacturing Development and Education (Alabama IMaDE). Additionally, ADAMC will establish a facility for the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation and Integration Center (AMIIC) in Huntsville. Leveraging a best-practice model demonstrated by the U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC), AMIIC is a public-private collaboration between the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Aviation and Missile Center (AvMC), the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), industry, and academia (K-12 through university), that will work in collaboration with other similar centers to focus on meeting Alabama’s demand for a highly trained workforce, centric to advanced manufacturing and other leading-edge technologies critical to the DIB participants and Alabama’s DoD operations.

    A key objective of the ADAMC will be to support visibility, awareness, technology adoption and workforce development and education in advanced manufacturing technologies that are vital both to current needs and future requirements to enhance the readiness and modernization of U.S. Army aviation and missile weapon systems. This DMC encompasses the majority of aerospace and defense manufacturing, defense installations and associated industries in the region.

    The implementation strategy to achieve these goals consists of two Enabling Activities, including:

    • NCDMM will establish the initial operation of the AMIIC facility.

    • The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) will lead the effort of examining needs, gaps and barriers to effective workforce development and technology adoption.

    The implementation will be further supported by three Thrust Areas, each with a lead organization:

    • UAH will manage the effort to develop new and enhance existing education and workplace development programs.

    • Auburn University will conduct pilot technology adoption projects with industry.

    • The University of Alabama will be responsible for initiating a technology development program.

    These efforts are designed to strengthen the innovation and manufacturing base in designated DMC Communities, a consortium composed of members of academia, defense industry, nonprofit organizations and State and local government organizations. This presents a revolutionary step forward for the region with regard to positioning the DoD presence within a rich environment of industry, academia and DIB Small-to-Medium Manufacturer (SMM) expertise, benefitting Army Modernization priorities through product, process, human capital and the STEM educational experience.

    The combination of achieving DMC status and the subsequent enhancement of advanced manufacturing capabilities will strengthen Alabama’s DIB and further contributions to the DoD, positioning Alabama for continued growth and retention of its defense installations. The State has a strong history in manufacturing and is growing exponentially in advanced manufacturing-related jobs.

    To achieve these program goals, the ADAMC will implement an execution model that drives interaction and collaboration amongst partners. The educational process will begin early in K-12, with a focus on STEM needs and manufacturing education, and carry forward through both two-year and four-year academic career paths.

    Industry will have the opportunity to engage prospective students and employees at multiple levels, while demonstrating product and process advancement on key technologies. The existing, displaced and military veteran workforce, in collaboration with local and state programs, will be able to undergo retraining, skills enhancement or continuing education/certification to reenter the workforce or obtain position advancement.

     By working collaboratively with government, industry and academia, existing education programs will benefit as new workforce development programs are created to supply a pipeline of qualified and capable individuals.

     ADAMC Consortium members include: 

    • Athens State University

    • Auburn University

    • Calhoun Community College

    • Carpenter Technology

    • Central Alabama Community College

    • City of Tuscaloosa

    • Dynetics, Inc.

    • Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation

    • J.F. Drake State Community & Technical College

    • Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce

    • National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining

    • North Alabama Works

    • Northrop Grumman Corp, Defense Systems

    • Shelton State Community College

    • Stillman College

    • The University of Alabama in Huntsville

    • The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa

    • TriVector Services, Inc.

    • Troy University

    • Tuscaloosa County Commission

    • University of West Alabama

    • West Alabama Works 

    This award is one of six DoD grants announced across the country totaling $25 million made by the OEA. The awards derive from Fiscal Year 2020 appropriated funding and leverage an additional $12.6 million in non-Federal funding for a total investment of $37.6 million to enhance critical skills, research and development and small business support.

     The OEA works with states and communities to help them respond to changes driven by the DoD throughout the U.S. Some are home to military bases, while others manufacture the products and provide the services necessary for national defense. The Office leverages the capabilities of state and local partners through grants and technical assistance to enhance readiness of installations and ranges as well.

    For more information, please contact Brian Tucker in the UAH Office for Operational Excellence at 256.824.2957 or email

  • 7 Oct 2020 1:21 PM | Deleted user

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – October 6, 2020 – Kailos Genetics, a CLIA-certified genetic sequencing company, announced they have entered into a partnership with Intermountain Healthcare to establish a pharmacogenetic testing platform for the healthcare network.

    Pharmacogenetics is the study of how specific genetic variations affect the way an individual metabolizes medication. Understanding which genetic variations a patient carries can help physicians better personalize healthcare. Kailos Genetics' proprietary InspexionTM pharmacogenetic testing service is the most comprehensive in the industry.

    Through a decade of industry experience and innovation, Kailos Genetics has provided thousands of genetic results to physicians to implement precision medicine solutions. “We combine our expertise in both genetic panel design and Illumina sequencing technology to provide robust, up-to-date pharmacogenetics data that is securely and directly transferred to most Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS),” says Brian Pollock, Chief Executive Officer for Kailos Genetics.

    “Kailos is committed to delivering the highest quality and most comprehensive pharmacogenetic information available today to help Intermountain Healthcare physicians better serve their patients,” says Brian Pollock, Chief Executive Officer for Kailos Genetics.

    Founded in 2010 and located at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama, Kailos Genetics is committed to providing innovative, trusted and affordable genetic sequencing solutions.

    Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit health system serving Utah, southern Idaho and southern Nevada.  Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, the healthcare network consists of 24 hospitals, 2,400 physicians and approximately 160 clinics.

  • 5 Oct 2020 5:22 PM | Deleted user

    BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA- Top-ranked startup accelerator gener8tor announced today the participants selected for 10 of its Fall 2020 gBETA cohorts. The 50 startups are located across the country, and represent a wide variety of industries and verticals, including IIoT, Medtech, SaaS and beyond.

    The Fall 2020 gBETA cohort is the inaugural cohort for the Bronze Valley Accelerator. The Bronze Valley Accelerator focuses on supporting female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color. gBETA is a free, seven-week accelerator that works with five startups at a time for no fees and no equity.

    gBETA is a program of nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor. Each cohort is kept small to ensure meaningful engagement with the gener8tor team, network and other resources. Participants receive intensive and individualized coaching and access to gener8tor’s national network of mentors, customers, corporate partners and investors.

    “Bronze Valley is committed to creating and maintaining an entrepreneurial environment that is more nurturing, more supportive and more inclusive,” said Bronze Valley President & CEO Neill S. Wright. “This cohort of promising startups represents a great start for the Accelerator.”

    The program is designed to help startups gain early customer traction on their product or idea, and establish metrics that can make them competitive applicants for full-time, equity-based accelerators or seed investment.

    “Bronze Valley serves as an important element in our efforts to enhance the vitality of Alabama’s innovation ecosystem, and the selection of the first class of startups represents a major milestone for the Accelerator,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “The guidance and mentorship these entrepreneurs will receive from Bronze Valley will play a vital role in launching their companies to the next level."

    The 10 Fall programs kicked off on Thursday, Oct. 1, and the startups will work with the gener8tor team over the course of seven weeks to meet mentors, gain customer traction and pitch to investors. Due to COVID-19, the Fall 2020 programs are all being held virtually.

    These programs will culminate in gener8tor’s first gBETA Pitch Series, “gener8tor is Grateful For…,” which will highlight each of the fifty companies via Pitch Night events taking place each night the week before Thanksgiving. This series will be an opportunity to listen and learn more about the companies, network with the founders and other community members and celebrate everything we have to be thankful for during this time. To view information about the full Pitch Series, click here. Bronze Valley Accelerator’s cohort will be highlighted during Virtual Pitch Night on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 5 p.m. CT. For more information and to RSVP, click here.

    “The gener8tor and Bronze Valley partnership connects local and national partners, mentors and investors to support underrepresented founders in our region,” said Haley Medved Kendrick, Bronze Valley Accelerator Director. “The inaugural cohort showcases the creativity, resiliency and bravery of our people, and offers a clear example of the innovation happening in our state."

    The accelerator is supported by Bronze Valley, Alabama Power and the Alabama Department of Commerce. The Bronze Valley Accelerator is held three times per year, with five Alabama-based companies accepted per cohort to ensure a high level of individualized attention. The Bronze Valley Accelerator works with companies across all industries and business models. Those interested in learning more can reach out to Bronze Valley Accelerator Director Haley Medved Kendrick at or visit

  • 5 Oct 2020 5:17 PM | Deleted user

    The two technologies function at different points of the diagnostic process and could help detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the anticipated second wave of the pandemic.

    (BOSTON) — The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University announced today that its nasopharyngeal swab and toehold switch technologies have been licensed to Alabama-based Agile Biodetection, which will use them to develop solutions for unmet diagnostic needs in the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in environmental or clinical settings. The licensing agreement was coordinated by Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) in accordance with the University’s commitment to the COVID-19 Technology Access Framework.

    The Wyss Institute’s nasopharyngeal (nasal) swabs were developed in a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary group effort led by Wyss Institute Senior Staff Engineer Richard Novak, Ph.D., and the Wyss’ Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., as part of the Institute’s collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Motivated by the serious shortage of swab devices for the collection of nasopharyngeal samples early in the pandemic, the researchers created a simple and effective devicewith advantages over other designs. The Wyss swab device is fully injection-molded from a single material, and as such, can be mass manufactured in a one-step process that is faster, less expensive, and routinely used by a broad range of experienced medical device manufacturers worldwide. Conventional nasal swabs that are commonly used in infectious disease diagnostic medicine were designed 50 years ago, and are manufactured in two parts from different materials that then need to be assembled, sterilized and packaged in a multi-step process, which requires considerable time and expense. In successful tests performed by academic collaborators and teaching hospitals, the unique nasal swab design was demonstrated to effectively collect SARS-CoV-2 genetic RNA material from the nostrils of patients and to be more comfortable than existing commercial products.

    Toehold switches could come into play at the other end of the COVID-19 diagnostic process. Pioneered in the groups of Wyss Core Faculty members James Collins, Ph.D., and Peng Yin, Ph.D., they are synthetic nucleic acid-based devices that function as sensors for external stimuli (“inputs”), like RNA molecules derived from pathogenic viruses. When integrated into synthetic gene circuits, Toehold Switches can be designed to turn on a gene of interest, which can be a reporter signaling the presence of the environmental stimulus. In their OFF state, these nanotechnological devices form a hairpin-like structure that specifically associates with and actively blocks the expression of a (reporter) target gene. Once an “input” RNA binds to their “toehold” region, the hairpin structure opens up and adopts an ON state to allow the protein-synthesizing machinery access to the target gene, which results in the synthesis of the actual signaling molecule. 

    In a series of proof-of-concept studies, the Collins and Yin teams have demonstrated toehold switches to function in living cells as computational devices that can assess and report complex combinations of environmental stimuli. They also have utilized them as key components of paper-based synthetic gene circuits that can be applied as diagnostics to sense and indicate different pathogens, including Ebola and Zika viruses. The versatile capabilities of Toehold Switches offer an opportunity for inexpensively and effectively surveilling the presence of pathogens with high sensitivity and specificity in different environmental settings, including working environments during the reopening phase of the pandemic.

    Paving the way to real-world diagnostic solutions

    Agile Biodetection is a new, Birmingham, Alabama-based company focused on comprehensive pathogen detection. The company’s founders, Kanti Sunkavalli, M.D., M.B.A., Elizabeth Rayburn, Ph.D., Leverett Powell and Edward McLain, are committed to utilizing and developing novel technologies to generate rapid, efficient, automated and affordable testing solutions. 

    Agile Biodetection is approaching the COVID-19 pandemic from an alternate viewpoint to most of the conventional solutions. Instead of testing patients for the virus, they’re focusing on detecting SARS-CoV-2 in the environment, including on surfaces and touchpoints within high-traffic areas. They’re applying a high-throughput cloud-based system to disseminate the results of testing, making it faster and providing a leading indicator of the risk of infection and the prevalence of the virus in certain populations. 

    “We believe that 3-pronged testing… of individuals, surfaces, and the environment, will be necessary to provide students, consumers and employees confidence to start the path back to normalcy,” said Dr. Sunkavalli, the CEO of Agile Biodetection. 

    Harvard co-led the creation of the COVID-19 Technology Access Framework, now endorsed by 23 other research institutions, to incentivize the rapid utilization of available technologies that can facilitate the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of COVID-19 infection in the fight against the pandemic. Accordingly, the term-limited license agreement crafted by Harvard OTD grants Agile non-exclusive, royalty-free access to the Wyss nasal swab and Toehold Switch technologies for use in new SARS-CoV-2 detection approaches during the pandemic. 

    “This licensing agreement speaks to our Institute’s ability to rapidly pivot and refocus our undivided attention on important and difficult problems in real-time as they arise, as we did with COVID-19. We are fully committed to help soften the blow of the pandemic in any way we can, and to help get bring normalcy into our lives again,” said Ingber, who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at SEAS. 


    Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University
    Benjamin Boettner,, +1 917-913-8051


    The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University ( uses Nature’s design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world. Wyss researchers are developing innovative new engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing that are translated into commercial products and therapies through collaborations with clinical investigators, corporate alliances, and formation of new startups. The Wyss Institute creates transformative technological breakthroughs by engaging in high risk research, and crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers, working as an alliance that includes Harvard’s Schools of Medicine, Engineering, Arts & Sciences and Design, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana–Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston University, Tufts University, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, University of Zurich and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) ( promotes the public good by fostering innovation and translating new inventions made at Harvard University into useful products that are available and beneficial to society. Our integrated approach to technology development comprises sponsored research and corporate alliances, intellectual property management, and technology commercialization through venture creation and licensing. More than 70 startups have launched to commercialize Harvard technologies in the past 5 years, collectively raising more than $2.5 billion in financing. To further bridge the academic-industry development gap, Harvard OTD manages the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator and the Physical Sciences & Engineering Accelerator.

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