While the world continues its fight against novel coronavirus, researchers and private industry have banded together in order to slow the spread of the virus and develop new tests and treatments for Covid-19. Now, more than ever, it is evident that collaboration is necessary to overcome current challenges and nowhere is as uniquely qualified to help foster these collaborations than Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.
At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the companies residing on HudsonAlpha’s biotech campus have increased laboratory testing capacity, launched point-of-care testing diagnostics, advanced early stage antibody treatments for immune response, provided researchers with critical reagents for Covid-19 projects and researched personal protective equipment sterilization methods for the reuse of PPE equipment.
Much of this progress can be attributed to the HudsonAlpha ecosystem that promotes collaboration on solving some of the world’s most challenging problems.
Diatherix-Eurofins, a diagnostic testing laboratory, released it’s Covid-19 panel in mid-March and immediately began working with physicians and hospitals to test symptomatic patients. Since launching, Diatherix has increased its testing capacity by more than 50 percent by adding to their workforce and expanding into and repurposing lab and office space at HudsonAlpha. Diatherix-Eurofins recently received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its Covid-19 panel and have provided diagnostic test results to more than 70,000 people nationwide.
“We appreciate that HudsonAlpha removed many obstacles that have allowed Diatherix to scale up capacity for large volumes of Covid-19 testing,” said Jen Cart, CEO of Diatherix Eurofins. “Their swift accommodation of our needs demonstrated the incredible support and true purpose of HudsonAlpha’s mission for collaboration and connectivity.”
Associate companies also are able to leverage the collective community of HudsonAlpha when needed. transOMIC Technologies is a critical vendor of reagents to researchers working on Covid-19 therapies. Recently, transOMIC lost operation of key equipment, threatening production of their test kits. Within an hour, transOMIC was able to meet the delivery commitments thanks to the multiple offers of assistance from other associate companies and non-profit labs on the HudsonAlpha campus.
“Thanks to HudsonAlpha and the collaborative community, we were able to continue production with minimal down-time and continue to provide products to researchers working on Covid-19 projects,” said transOMIC CEO Blake Simmons.
HudsonAlpha has additionally rolled out an FDA Advisory panel to help companies navigate the EUA and approval process for Covid-19 related devices, diagnostics and therapies. A one-of-its-kind advisory panel of associate company executives is working with companies across the state that need guidance and direction on navigating the regulatory pathways for approval.
HudsonAlpha has utilized its purchasing power to procure PPE, reagents and critical cleaning supplies for employees, the associate companies and community first-responders. The Institute acquired more than 7,000 disposable face masks and made them immediately available to companies on campus. When lack of high demand equipment threatened the procurement of reagents, HudsonAlpha stepped in to work with all of the companies and labs on campus to overcome the barriers of a strained supply chain.
HudsonAlpha has advocated for the associate companies throughout this crisis, and, as local, state and federal policies are updated, many within the Institute work daily with the associate companies on funding options, best practices on workplace safety and on return-to-work planning.
Sameer Singhal, president and CEO of CFD Research, one of the associate companies that has been with HudsonAlpha since inception, said, “As a resident associate company on the campus, we appreciate having HudsonAlpha’s economic development team provide us useful resources during the pandemic and sharing best practices for returning to work. Having access to these resources has helped us develop our own policies.”
More than 10 companies are working on Covid-19 related projects at HudsonAlpha, including:
- Acclinate Genetics is working with clinical trial sponsors to ensure diverse representation in therapeutic testing.
- CFD Research’s Computational Medicine and Biology team is working on various aspects of Covid-19 respiratory viral infection, transmission, protection and treatment.
- Diatherix-Eurofins, a diagnostic testing laboratory, is providing testing for Covid-19.
- Discovery Life Sciences is continuing to support the advancement of Covid-19 diagnostic testing and vaccine development by providing expert biospecimen solutions, genomic, immunohistochemistry (IHC) and flow cytometry services.
- iCubate is providing Alabama hospitals and health care organizations the recently launched “iC-COVID19 Assay,” which enables large cities and small towns the ability to offer an on-site, localized coronavirus test.
- iRepertoire has developed a technology that could collect the antibodies from patients who have recovered from Covid-19 and produce them in large quantities.
- MicroArrays is manufacturing Covid-19 diagnostic products.
- Prozone Water Products is researching and developing a device for PPE sanitation for healthcare providers.
- TransOMIC Technologies is currently supplying reagents and test kits for Covid-19
To learn more about Covid-19 efforts on the HudsonAlpha campus, visit https://hudsonalpha.org/hudsonalpha-updates-on-Covid-19/.