COVID-19 Resources for North Carolina Life Science Companies and Researchers

Given the role North Carolina's life science community are playing in response to the COVID-19 virus, and the effect the outbreak is having on business operations, this page compiles resources and news relevant to local life science companies and researchers.

This page is actively being maintained by Life Science Intelligence at NCBiotech. If you have something to submit, please email research@ncbiotech.org. Follow NCBiotech on Twitter for updates.

Last update: May 27, 2020

North Carolina News

Duke Today, 5/27/2020

Duke Launches National Network to Bring COVID-19 Support Directly to People

The PRN is a network of organizations aligned to serve the needs of individuals and communities during the pandemic, especially those that are hardest-hit by COVID-19. PRN partners serve essential service workers and individuals who work in long term care; advocate for Hispanic communities and communities of older adults; provide medical care to vulnerable communities; and provide software products focused on employee information security and social service referrals.

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Durham Medical AI Leader TeraRecon Makes Quick Shift to COVID-19 Imaging

The last few years have been good to TeraRecon, a Durham company that builds comprehensive medical imaging software using artificial intelligence. In 2017, it released a large algorithm marketplace, and a year later it launched a “results explorer,” which displays the AI-processed images in an interactive and efficient dashboard that gives physicians optimum control.

Durham-based IQVIA to Manage Clinical Trial of Hydroxychloroquine Vs. COVID-19

Durham-based IQVIA (NYSE: IQV) has been selected to manage COVID SHIELD, an Australian clinical study of hydroxychloroquine, the drug President Trump said he has been taking to prevent a COVID-19 infection.

Duke's one-hour coronavirus antibody test could be a 'game-changer'

As the world hunts for effective means for testing and screening populations for Covid-19, Duke University researchers have developed a test to detect antibodies for the virus – in less than an hour. In partnership with private industry, researchers at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore have developed a new blood test that will detect the presence of neutralizing antibodies for Covid-19.

Article behind paywall.

Orion Plans AI Strategy to Design Vaccines Against COVID-19

Orion Integrated Biosciences, a Kansas-based biodefense company with a growing presence in North Carolina, plans to use artificial intelligence to design vaccines to fight COVID-19. The company says its vaccine design strategy will use powerful AI algorithms it developed from very large datasets of genomic information.

Grifols Expands Plasma Collection Centers in Search for COVID-19 Treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus and have recovered, you can help researchers find a potential treatment for the disease. Grifols, one of the leading producers of plasma-based medicines, is expanding its plasma collection program in North Carolina and beyond. The goal is to develop an immunoglobulin that can treat COVID-19.

A Star Medical Researcher Looks at the Coronavirus

Dr. Tony Atala—an international leader in the field of regenerative medicine, which creates tissues that can replace failing body parts—discusses COVID-19.

What they’re trained for: Biomedical engineers at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State respond to COVID-19 by teaming to speed the development of an emergency ventilator

The Carolina Respiratory Emergency – Ventilator (CaRE-Vent) team is advancing knowledge in the biomedical design community about how to create emergency ventilators. Biomedical engineering student Kathlyne Bautista always knew that her coursework and training would set her on a path to make a life-changing difference for people. But before the coronavirus pandemic, she didn’t realize just how soon that opportunity would arrive. 

RedHill Approved for US COVID-19 Study

Fresh off a small – but successful – COVID-19 study in Israel, RedHill Biopharma has received approval to test its investigational drug, opaganib, in the United States.

UNC-CH Ranks Tops Among US Universities in Coronavirus Research

If you’ve gotten the impression that North Carolina is a hotbed of research and development to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus, you’d be right. Nowhere is that more evident than at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, home to some of the top coronavirus experts in the world and the highest-ranked U.S. university for coronavirus research. 

LabCorp making COVID-19 antibody tests available to individuals

LabCorp is making its recently launched COVID-19 anti-body test available to individuals. Interested individuals can visit LabCorp.com for more details.

“With the addition of this latest offering, individuals have the ability to receive the COVID-19 IgG antibody test from their doctor, in person or through a telemedicine program, and now directly using LabCorp.com,” the company says.

Grifols To Develop Plasma-Derived Treatment for COVID-19

Grifols, one of the world’s leading producers of plasma-based medicines, is collecting a blood product from recovered COVID-19 patients to develop a possible treatment for the coronavirus disease.

All hands on deck: COVID-19 engineering response team assembles from every corner at Duke

At the beginning of 2020, Dr. Alejandro Pino’s attention was focused on designing and patenting feeding tubes that can unclog themselves while also pursuing a pulmonology and critical care fellowship in the Duke University School of Medicine. Just a few months later, a novel coronavirus turned the world upside down, and feeding tubes were no longer Pino’s most pressing project.

Golden LEAF offers another $125M in COVID-19 disaster loans for small businesses

Golden LEAF, a statewide economic development group, is making another $125 million in loans available to small businesses across North Carolina following the N.C. General Assembly’s passage of a COVID-19 pandemic relief bill that was signed into law Monday by Gov. Roy Cooper.

The UNC System Contributes to Combating COVID-19

The UNC System’s response to COVID-19 offers a vivid reminder that higher education is about much more than delivering information. Collectively, our institutions serve North Carolina through instruction, research, and service. The UNC System’s contributions to the state’s efforts to combat this pandemic underscore the long-term value of supporting this mission.

This page compiles stories about how the UNC System is responding through research, service and driving economic growth.

 Durham’s Chimerix Gets FDA Nod to Test Cancer Drug in COVID-19 Patients

Chimerix has gotten the green light to test an investigational cancer drug to treat COVID-19 patients. The Durham-based biopharmaceutical company announced it has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to proceed with a Phase 2/3 study ofdociparstat sodium (DSTAT) in COVID-19 patients with acute lung injury (ALI).

‘A game changer’ — Drug tested in UNC labs shows positive results for COVID-19 treatment

A treatment that reduces recovery time for patients with COVID-19 showed positive results in clinical trials, UNC-Chapel Hill announced Wednesday. The medication, called remdesivir and originated in the labs at UNC-CH, has been a critical piece of the effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, the nation’s coronavirus task force shared the positive results that it accelerates recovery.

Feeling the Heat from COVID-19? Heat Biologics May Have an Answer

For those feeling the health and economic heat from COVID-19 – and that’s just about everyone – Heat Biologics says it could soon offer up a potential solution. The Morrisville-based clinical-stage biotech company specializes in disease-fighting therapies that activate patients’ immune systems. So it is working on a vaccine that tackles the COVID-19 coronavirus on two fronts.

MedPharm Expands Testing Models to Target Coronavirus

MedPharm has expanded its testing models to support pharmaceutical development programs targeting Coronavirus treatments. These models allow companies to assess therapeutic effectiveness in nasal, airway (bronchial) and deep lung (alveolar) epithelia against members of the Coronaviridae family. 

LabCorp Expands Reach of COVID-19 Antibody Test

A LabCorp blood test that helps identify individuals who’ve been exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus is now broadly available. The Burlington-based life science company, which originally targeted the antibody blood analysis to healthcare workers, now offers it to anyone recommended for testing by a doctor or healthcare provider.

RedHill Experimental Drug Shows Promise As COVID-19 Treatment

Finally, a little encouraging news on the COVID-19 coronavirus front. RedHill Biopharma, an Israeli specialty company with U.S. commercial headquarters in Raleigh, reports that all six COVID-19 patients who recently received its investigative drug, opaganib, got better. 

Duke Gets Grant to Develop ‘Fast, Simple, Low-Cost’ COVID-19 Test

Duke University biomedical engineers are hoping a rapid testing platform originally designed to detect Ebola can now be used to catch antigens to COVID-19. Now thanks to a $119,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, the team is getting to put it to the test.

Metabolon Study to Provide Better Understanding of COVID-19

Why do some patients die from the COVID-19 coronavirus, while others have symptoms so mild they may not even realize they’re sick?  How can treatments for the disease work in some cases, while having no positive effect in others? These are just a couple of the questions Metabolon, a Morrisville-based precision health company, hopes to answer during a year-long COVID-19 study it is conducting with the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB).

Recovered COVID-19 Patients Can Donate Plasma at UNC, Some Grifols Plasma Centers

Americans who have recovered from COVID-19 may help save others from the disease by donating their convalescent plasma at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, or at plasma donor sites operated elsewhere around the country by the global biotherapeutics company Grifols.

LabCorp Offers Home Testing Kit for COVID-19

Healthcare workers and first responders who have symptoms of COVID-19 now can use a LabCorp kit to self-test for the coronavirus at home. The Burlington-based life sciences company has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration, which allows patients  to collect nose swab specimens with LabCorp’s Pixel COVID-19 kit. It is the first coronavirus diagnostic test authorized by the FDA that has a home collection option.

Why a North Carolina facility could soon be mass producing a coronavirus treatment

Grifols (NASDAQ: GRFS), a Spanish pharmaceutical company that calls Johnston County home to its largest manufacturing site, has begun the process of identifying, screening and selecting recovered coronavirus patients to donate plasma. The collected plasma will be used to produce a therapeutic — specifically a hyperimmune globulin — that Grifols hopes will be an effective treatment for the disease.

Article behind paywall.

RedHill Pursues Two Potential COVID-19 Treatments

RedHill Biopharma is another step closer to getting one of its potential treatments for COVID-19 tested.The Israeli company, which has its U.S. headquarters and commercial operations in Raleigh, got the green light to provide its investigational drug, RHB-107 (upamostat, WX-671), for testing in non-clinical studies against the coronavirus.

NC State Students Make Shields to Protect Medical Workers from COVID-19

Healthcare workers on the coronavirus frontline continue to risk their own lives to care for the sick. However, a group of graduate student volunteers at North Carolina State University’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department are determined to protect them.

BioCryst to Test Anti-Viral Treatment for COVID-19 in Brazil

Durham-based BioCryst Pharmaceuticals will conduct a clinical trial in Brazil to see if its investigational anti-viral drug is effective in treating the COVID-19 coronavirus. The therapy, galidesivir, will be used in a two-phase study of hospitalized adults who have moderate to severe COVID-19 infections. 

Open science drug discovery partnership aims to invest $125 million to prevent future pandemics

On Wednesday, the Structural Genomics Consortium, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Eshelman Institute for Innovation announced the launch of the Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative, a global organization aimed at discovering and developing drugs to put “on the shelf” for clinical trial testing in anticipation of future viral pandemics.

Cellex Cleared to Market Antibody Test for COVID-19

Cellex, a medical diagnostics company with U.S. headquarters and labs in Research Triangle Park, has launched a new antibody test for detecting COVID-19 infection.The company’s qSARS-COV-2 IgG/IgM Rapid Test is permitted for distribution and use under the public health emergency guidance issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

UNC researchers playing key role in development of potential COVID-19 treatment

Scientists are hopeful that a new drug, called EIDD-2801, could change the way doctors treat COVID-19. The drug shows promise in reducing lung damage, has finished testing in mice and will soon move to human clinical trials.

Advanced Animal Diagnostics Prepares COVID-19 Test for Humans

Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD) usually makes tests to help farmers monitor the health of their livestock. But in the age of coronavirus, the Research Triangle Park company is pivoting. The young ag tech firm is “repurposing” its QScout blood test platform, which is usually used to detect disease in cattle, to now be used for humans in the fight against COVID-19.

BioMedomics Teams with BD to Launch Rapid COVID-19 Test

Morrisville-based BioMedomics, a small diagnostics company supported by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, has partnered with BD (Becton Dickinson & Co.) to launch its new blood test for COVID-19 that can detect the infection within 15 minutes.

Duke to Lead $50 Million Study of COVID-19 Prevention in Healthcare Workers

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has funded up to $50 million to evaluate hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a preventive drug for the novel coronavirus.

Brii Biosciences, Chinese Partners Set to Develop COVID-19 Antibodies

Brii Biosciences, a biopharmaceutical company with a Durham presence, is collaborating with Chinese scientists to discover, develop, manufacture and commercialize monoclonal antibodies to fight COVID-19.

NC Startup Awaits FDA OK for ‘Low-Cost’ COVID-19 Ventilator

As the world grapples with a shortage of ventilators for COVID-19 patients, a small North Carolina life science startup has designed a low-cost option. BioMedInnovations (BMI), headquartered outside Charlotte with a research lab in Research Triangle Park, hopes to get federal fast-track approval this week to manufacture and distribute its uniquely simple device to help people breathe.

Carolina Liquid Chemistries Introduces Tests for COVID-19, Norfentanyl

Carolina Liquid Chemistries – a Greensboro diagnostics and drug screening company – has introduced two new immunoassays to test for COVID-19 and for norfentanyl, the major metabolite of the synthetic opioid pain reliever fentanyl.

Triangle Business Journal, 3/30/2020

Novan explores potential COVID-19 treatment, raises $8 million

A Triangle company that's struggled to develop its lead asset has brought in $8 million through a new public offering as it unveils plans to explore potential applications of its platform in the fight against COVID-19.

Article behind paywall

Q2 Solutions, U of Texas Medical Branch Team Up to Help Find COVID-19 Vaccines

Q2 Solutions, a clinical trial laboratory services organization headquartered in Morrisville, has teamed up with the University of Texas Medical Branch to develop an assay for analyzing COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Grifols Developing Potential Treatments for COVID-19

Grifols, a global biotherapeutics company with more than 2,000 employees in North Carolina, will produce and test a potential COVID-19 therapy derived from the blood plasma of patients who have recovered from the coronavirus infection.

NC's Gilero Uses Ingenuity, 3D Printing to Expand COVID-19 Protective Equipment, Ventilators

Using 3D printers, Morrisville medical device manufacturer Gilero has begun a three-tiered response to the shortage of COVID-19 protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Duke Starts Novel Decontamination of N95 Masks to Help Relieve Shortages

Facing a critical shortage of N95 face masks that block the coronavirus, Duke Health research and clinical teams have confirmed a way to use existing vaporized hydrogen peroxide methods to decontaminate the masks so they can be reused.

Duke joins first national effort to test potential COVID-19 therapy

Adults with severe symptoms of the novel illness will have the opportunity to participate in Duke University Hospital’s test of an investigational treatment with an antiviral agent known as remdesivir. Remdesivir is an antiviral agent that was previously tested in humans with Ebola virus disease and has shown promise in animal studies against MERS and SARS, diseases that emerged from different strains of the coronavirus.

Heat Biologics, University of Miami Developing Quick Point-Of-Care COVID-19 Test

Heat Biologics, a publicly traded North Carolina biotechnology company, is adding a rapid point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostic test to its product development pipeline. The new test is in addition to the provisional patent application the Morrisville company filed March 3 to apply its immune system activating technology to prevent and/or treat COVID-19. 

LabCorp Able to Perform 20,000 COVID-19 Tests Per Day 

LabCorp says it’s ahead of schedule in ramping up its capacity to conduct COVID-19 tests, and is now able to perform more than 20,000 of the tests per day. The Burlington-based company says it has doubled its COVID-19 testing capacity in one week at its labs in North Carolina, Arizona and New Jersey. 

NCCU Awarded Grant to Help Detect Biological Threats at the Border

North Carolina Central University has received a $330,000 grant to develop tools that help the U.S. Department of Homeland Security predict and spot risks at the border from biological threats such as COVID-19, African swine fever, and insect pests.

UNC Health deploys coronavirus test

A coronavirus test developed by Melissa Miller, director of the Clinical Molecular Microbiology Laboratory at the UNC School of Medicine, was being deployed by UNC Health on Monday, officials said. The test should help reduce some of the burden on North Carolina’s public health lab regarding testing, they said.

Medicago Vaccine Could Help Smoke Out Coronavirus

An ancient relative of tobacco, much maligned for the damage it has inflicted on public health, is key to a new vaccine to prevent the novel coronavirus. Medicago – a Canadian company with a biomanufacturing facility in Durham –  has used it to produce an experimental plant-based vaccine for COVID-19, the coronavirus disease that has now reached a global pandemic level. 

BioMedomics Seeks FDA OK for COVID-19 Rapid Diagnostic

Morrisville-based BioMedomics, a small diagnostics company supported by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, has developed a new test for rapidly detecting COVID-19, the coronavirus infection that is spreading rapidly throughout the world.

Biotech firm bioMerieux, which has an HQ in Durham, working on 3 coronavirus tests

France-based bioMerieux, which has a big Triangle connection, is the latest biotech firm developing tests it says will help health officials detect the coronavirus. The company, which focuses on in vitro (test tube) diagnostics, operates its headquarters for the US, Canada and Latin America in Durham.

CDC awards North Carolina $13 million to combat coronavirus

North Carolina is set to receive more than $13 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of a federal initiative to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

LabCorp is performing ‘several thousands’ of coronavirus tests per day to meet surge in demand

Burlington-based life science conglomerate LabCorp says it is now performing “several thousands” of coronavirus tests per day in the wake of an increasing number of new coronavirus infections in the United States. Meanwhile, it is rapidly adding new equipment and staff to create additional capacity for patients who should be tested across the country.

NC governor declares state of emergency as state deals with coronavirus

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Tuesday as leaders continue to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. The state now has 7 people who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, health officials said.

For Duke researchers – 'Every virus has an Achilles' heel'

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, researchers are racing to create a vaccine to eradicate it, including those at Duke University who have spent decades – funded by billions of dollars– studying vaccine development for some of the world's most pressing diseases.

Article behind paywall.

What We've Learned About Coronavirus: Infectious disease experts on the spread, the science and the scenarios for the virus

Three Duke infectious disease experts talked with the media Tuesday to discuss the origins and spread of COVID-19 and the global and U.S. response. Duke plans a series of briefings on the way the novel coronavirus is affecting the world.

Keep reading for highlights from the briefing.

An air-locked lab at UNC is leading research on cures for the coronavirus

For scientists working in laboratories across the world, their names usually won’t become well known outside of the subsection of people reading academic journals. But the outbreak of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has spread from China around the globe this year — has pushed researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill, specifically Dr. Ralph Baric, into the spotlight.

RTP firm BioMedomics says it has ‘quick and easy’ coronavirus test

BioMedomics, a medical diagnostic company based in RTP, says it has developed a novel coronavirus test that can turn around results in less than 15 minutes, potentially offering a fix to the current testing backlog.

LabCorp Launches New Test for Coronavirus

Burlington-based life science conglomerate LabCorp is the latest company to provide a test for COVID-19. This coronavirus has gained a foothold in more than 84 countries so far as it continues its unrelenting march across the globe.

 

NC Researchers, Companies Help Lead Coronavirus Battle

The rapid global march of the coronavirus that began in Wuhan, China several months ago could be slowed by researchers and biotech firms 7,770 miles away – in the Research Triangle of North Carolina.

Morrisville-based Heat Biologics joins global effort to discover coronavirus vaccine

The Morrisville-based biotechnology company announced today that it has formally launched a program within its wholly-owned subsidiary, Zolovax, Inc., to develop a vaccine using its immune activating gp96 vaccine platform for treating or preventing infection from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19.