Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced an award of 24 grants totaling $10 million for R&D associated with COVID-19 to state universities and other organizations. Four of the total grants are awarded to the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC), a nonprofit that is one of the most successful life sciences incubators in the United States, according to state communications.
‘Punching above their Weight’
Louis P Kassa, MPA, executive vice president of the PABC and Blumberg Institute suggeststhe potential impact of the research coming out of this center, noting, “We are punching above our weight, in a sense, when you consider the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center’s size relative to most of the others receiving grants.” Kassa continued, “While the center is just in its 14th year, we’ve been able to attract some extremely talented scientists and entrepreneurs with very promising ideas they are working to develop and commercialize.”
TrialSite summarizes these important grant awards:
Does Iminosugar Exhibit Useful Antiviral Properties Targeting COVID-19?
Two scientists working out of the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute received two grants for the development of COVID-19 treatments. Timothy M. Block, PhD, received $207,900 to help continue his work to determine if a small molecule iminosugar, by itself or in combination with other common drugs (remdesivir or favipiravir) has useful antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. Dr. Block is the co-founder, president and CEO of the PABC, Blumberg Institute and Hepatitis B. Foundation.
Development of Novel Drug Targeting COVID-19
Meanwhile John Kulp, PhD, the Blumberg Institute’s director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Chemistry, and Usha Viswanathan, PhD, Blumberg assistant professor, received $165,406 in grant funds to support continued work on a potential drug they discovered. In laboratory testing, the compound inhibited the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binding to ACE2: this could be the first small molecule anti-viral drug specifically designed for COVID-19 neutralization.
Grant Monies Help PA Biotech Center Expand R&D Targeting COVID-19
$430,000 in grant monies go to the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center to help build new labs, offices and instructional space to accommodate COVID-19 research and development. This compliments the $19 million expansion now underway at the Bucks County facility, where numerous scientists, along with the ones mentioned above, are conducting their research targeting COVID-19.
Evrys Bio Receives Grant for its Host-Targeted Antiviral Drugs
A grant for $321,912 will be awarded to PABC-member biotech company Evrys Bio, located in the center. There scientists for the company are developing host-targeted antiviral drugs that purportedly can block the growth of differing respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses.
About the PABC
The PABC is a nonprofit life sciences incubator-accelerator, offering state-of-the-art laboratory and office space to early stage biotech companies, as well as the Hepatitis B Foundation and Baruch S. Blumberg Institute. Managed by the Institute and led by a board appointed by the Foundation, PABC is home to 41 small to midsize science, research and pharmaceutical companies. The center uses a highly successful services-based approach to nurture and guide its member companies to success, advancing biotechnology, maximizing synergies among nonprofit scientists and their commercial colleagues, and launching new ideas and discoveries that will make a difference. The PABC is in the heart of the Philadelphia-New Jersey pharma belt.
Call to Action: For those interested in participating with PABC, including donations, see the link.