May 5 2020
Biotechnology/Life Sciences/Pharmaceuticals,COVID-19,Research & Development

Capital Region Life Sciences Cluster Mobilizes to Counter COVID-19

From conducting clinical trials to developing testing equipment and medical devices, the Capital Region’s Life Sciences Cluster is contributing to the effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The Life Sciences Cluster employs more than 5,800 and features several industries that are nationally unique. Below is an overview of COVID-19-related activates underway in the region’s Life Sciences Cluster.

1. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in East Greenbush has been making viral transport media – a key component of COVID-19 test kits, and the company’s arthritis drug, Kevzara, is in clinical trials to treat COVID-19.

2. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s AiMOS supercomputer helping researchers apply artificial intelligence to the fight against COVID-19.

Researchers at RPI’s Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) developed a machine that uses ultraviolet light to sterilize protective facemasks.

3. Albany Medical Center was one of the first hospitals in the country to receive FDA approval for an experimental convalescent blood plasma therapy for the treatment of critically ill COVID-19 patients.

4. The New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center has developed a non-invasive saliva test for the coronavirus as well as test for COVID-19 antibodies.

5. Researchers at SUNY Polytechnic Institute are working to create an advance COVID-19 test with others at the Wadsworth Center in Albany and Ciencia, a medical device firm in Hartford, Connecticut.

6. Taconic Biosciences in Germantown is making the models used for COVID testing.

7. American Bio Medica in Kinderhook is manufacturing a COVID-19 Rapid Test for antibody detection.

8. Precision Valve and Automation, a leading in fluid dispensing solutions manufacturer in Cohoes, pivoted to become the first non-medical device firm to receive a fast-tracked FDA approval for an emergency ventilator called PREVENT.

9. Hollingsworth & Vose in Easton is manufacturing air filtration media that is critical to respiratory protection equipment, such as disposable and surgical facemasks, and medical respiratory equipment, such as ventilators.

10. Specialty Silicone Products in Ballston Spa is manufacturing EMI/RFI Shielding elastomers that will for EMI gaskets in ventilators.

11. FluoroTech, a Canadian biotech company, has partnered with Albany Medical Center’s Biomedical Acceleration and Commercialization Center (BACC) to form FluoroTest, which will develop a fluorescence spectroscopy COVID-19 testing device that delivers results in less than 15 minutes.

Zephyrx, also at the BACC, has developed an FDA-approved device for the remote COVID-19 patient pulmonary testing that can also be video game-based to increase patient adherence.

12. AMRI has a strategic manufacturing agreement for messenger RNA (mRNA) production with Lexington, Massachusetts-based Tanslate Bio, which has partnered with Sanofi to develop a novel mRNA vaccine candidate against COVID-19.

13. Vital Vio in East Greenbush makes antimicrobial LED lights combat the growth of bacteria, fungi, yeast, mold and mildew.

14. Kitware in Clifton Park enhanced its Pulse open source software platform to aid critical care physicians in treating multiple COVID-19 patients with a shared ventilator.

15. University at Albany biology, chemistry and atmospheric and environmental scientists have received at total $17,500 to study exploring the impact of weather on COVID-19 transmission, visual rapid tests of COVID-19 biomarkers for on-site diagnostics, and novel technology for mapping the spatial structure of the COVID-19 salivary microbiome.

16. St. Peter’s Hospital, Ellis Hospital and Glens Falls Hospital were listed as available locations for clinical trials for Gilead’s Remdesivir, which Dr. Anthony Fauci has said promises to set a “new standard” for COVID-19 treatment.

Cluster’s National Uniqueness

As of September 2019, the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA has the nation’s seventh highest concentration of pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing jobs, as measured by their location quotient (LQ =3.47). The Albany metro also has the ninth highest concentration of jobs in the R&D in the physical, engineering, and life sciences industry (LQ=3.45). Among U.S. counties, Warren County ranked No. 1 for its concentration of medical equipment and supplies manufacturing jobs (LQ=17.80). The Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA is one of fewer than 50 metros nationwide were private businesses spend more than$1 billion on R&D annually.

CEG and the Life Sciences Cluster

CEG is supporting the growth of the region’s life sciences cluster by engaging in the following activities:

Marketing the Capital Region’s life sciences R&D assets at talent pipeline at industry conferences across the country, such as BIO CEO & Investor in New York and BIO International in San Diego.

Conducting a life sciences cluster study that developed an action plan for: 1. improving the commercialization of local life sciences innovations, 2. strengthening the region’s life sciences ecosystem; 3. and recruiting contract research organizations (CROs) to the region.

Assisting life sciences startups with accessing labs, office space, and other facilities; developing venture pitches; identifying potential investors and mentors.

Helping biotech firms, such as Vital Vio, grow through Business Growth Solutions services, including continuous improvement, technology acceleration, energy and sustainability, supply chain development and workforce initiatives.


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