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Dr. Afshin Safavi
Posted by Dr. Afshin Safavi Industry Update

Science Can’t Be Stopped: Pushing Forward Health Breakthroughs & Hope in Uncertain Times

Science Can’t Be Stopped: Pushing Forward Health Breakthroughs & Hope in Uncertain Times

As the world faces uncertain circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations across a number of industries have had no choice but to pause their progressive efforts in order to keep people safe and care-critical supplies available. The healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotech markets, however, are pushing forward harder than ever to address this unprecedented health crisis and to give people hope, and it makes us proud to see one thing clearly: even in trying times, science can’t be stopped.

During this crucial time, we’ve seen firsthand the resolve our customers have to develop solutions that can save lives and prevent healthy people from being impacted from coronavirus. These solutions are not just coming in the form of potential vaccines, but also in therapies aimed at treating our most at-risk and vulnerable populations to strengthen their position of health, and in testing to understand the extent of COVID-19 exposure our communities truly have.

Just as our determined customers, BioAgilytix is more dedicated than ever to keeping our doors open and our labs running so that pivotal therapeutic innovations can continue being developed for the patients who need them most. We consider the unique position from which we are able to help others in our global community a privilege, and we’re proud to step up to the plate and work alongside our scientific colleagues to help with this pandemic in the ways we can, together.

Supporting Vaccines & High-Risk Patients
A number of biotech and pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, with two of the most promising approaches using messenger RNA (mRNA) and self-amplifying RNA (saRNA). These vaccines in addition to several others are being developed with extreme urgency, along with anti-viral therapeutics to treat already infected patients. Part of this includes proper testing via PCR to identify individuals with active infections. Data is also emerging to suggest that cytokine release syndrome (CRS) may represent a significant cause of death in patients with severe cases of COVID-19, so cytokine monitoring is an important component of patient management.

At the same time, the science community is working to make sure other development efforts don’t fall behind. As research and news headlines have shown, immunocompromised individuals and those with underlying conditions are the populations most at risk for contracting COVID-19 and are typically experiencing the most serious disease complications. Immunocompromised individuals can include patients with a wide range of diseases, from cancer patients and cancer survivors to those with autoimmune disorders. Underlying conditions can include asthma and diseases of the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, and other vital organs. Development of biotherapeutics to treat these vulnerable patients simply cannot stall out because lives are on the line – not just during this pandemic but also to improve their quality of life and health outcomes long-term.

The amount of sample testing and validations we’ve recently completed confirms to us that the science community understands the importance of keeping the drug pipeline as full as possible so, as COVID-19 is defeated, there is no delay in getting critical drug candidates to market and in the hands of patients in need quickly.

Addressing Limitations with Scientific Ingenuity
The pandemic has underscored that speed is critical to addressing new infectious agents as they emerge, and that novel approaches are often needed to address novel diseases. A review of the FDA’s Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program (CTAP) alone shows that a number of novel therapies for COVID-19 are in the works, such as a “Venus-Fly-Trap” approach that leverages nanoviricide materials to attract the virus particle so it can wrap around it and render it incapable of infecting cells.

At BioAgilytix we’re doing our part to innovate our own testing to address key challenges typically associated with the development of anti-viral therapeutics. Many of these biotherapeutics operate through neutralization of the virus or kill infected cells and employ in vivo testing – which can be time-consuming and expensive – to measure potency, function and efficacy. We recently developed a relative potency assay for an anti-influenza monoclonal antibody as a general example of how a diagnostic neutralization method, the WHO microneutralization assay for influenza, can be translated into a quantitative in vitro method for quantification of relative potency and validated it to current regulatory standards. Results show this method can be applied to streamline the time and cost of bioanalytical testing to support therapeutic development for viral infections such as coronavirus and influenza.

Detection of Antibodies to Aid the Next Phase of Response
Crucial to managing the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic will be reliable antibody tests that can identify individuals who have been infected with this form of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, even if they have not shown symptoms or have already recovered. These tests measure IgM, IgG, and IgA antibodies that occur after infection and can aid in the diagnosis of the disease as well as identify people who may have developed immunity to COVID-19. As a CLIA-certified lab, BioAgilytix is able to perform this type of immune response monitoring and we have extensive antibody testing experience that we can bring to bear to support customers’ needs related to diagnostics, immunosurveillance, and vaccine clinical trial support.

It’s Up to All of Us to Keep Progressing Science

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every part of the world, and when it comes to solving this global challenge, we’re all in it together. We applaud all of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are working around the clock to find cures, as well as the ones who are continuing to deliver therapies that advance many aspects of human health. We are proud to support your efforts each day. We truly thank our healthcare workers who are on the front lines fighting to keep our global community healthy. We know that if we all keep pushing forward, science will overcome.

BioAgilytix is committed to continuing to do our part to help customers get much-needed medicines to patients safely and efficiently. If you have a project need you’d like to discuss, please reach out to us here.

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