Bioscience companies and their employees are flexing their research, development, and manufacturing muscle to help in the fight against COVID-19.
PEI BioAlliance members and other specialized manufacturers are not only maintaining their regular operations, but are also part of Canada’s response to the crisis.
PEI companies and research teams are developing protective equipment and medical devices, products to strengthen human resistance to diseases, technologies to test if someone is or has been infected by COVID-19, and technologies to give specialists an online view for remote diagnoses. Here are eleven examples below.
BioVectra, PEI’s largest bioscience company, is manufacturing critical ingredients necessary for COVID-19 diagnostic kits across Canada. They are also producing surface and hand sanitizer for PEI’s health system and other essential services in need. The company’s existing fermentation, biological protein testing and manufacturing capability could also support future vaccine development and other drug therapies.
Quannessence Skincare has created QuannShield, a pocket-sized hand sanitizer that’s a Health Canada-compliant sanitizing spray. Recognizing that hand sanitizers can lead to dry hands, Quannessence has included in its formulation, skin-hydrating characteristics making the product unique compared to other sanitizers. Their products are available in Murphy’s Pharmacies across PEI, and from the soon-to-be online store www.shopquannessence.com.
Avivagen is better known for its animal health technologies, such as its OxC‑Beta supplement that boosts immunity and reduces inflammation in livestock and companion animals, minimizing the need for antibiotic use. Now, Avivagen is evaluating OxC‑Beta’s potential to boost the human immune system and help people afflicted by respiratory problems from lung inflammation due to COVID-19 or other illnesses. Read the full story here
AffinityImmuno is part of an international consortium currently testing a rapid diagnostic test to screen for the virus in bodily fluids. Additionally, AffinityImmuno is developing a lab test to identify biomarkers that indicate protection against infection or reinfection by COVID-19.
Fieldetect Inc, co-founded by UPEI professors, recently received $355K from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) to modify its handheld LabAnywhere technology for the COVID-19 cause. Initially designed to quickly detect viruses in animals, the Fieldetect technology shows promise for testing viruses like COVID-19 in humans. Read the full story here
Somru BioScience is drawing on its antibody platform technology to assist in developing therapeutic and diagnostic solutions for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Their experience in immunoassay development will enable them to provide diagnostic and research solutions for future infectious disease outbreaks. Somru’s plans include shortening the development time of diagnostic kits for future infectious diseases by 50 percent. For full details, click here
TerraVerdae Bioworks is leveraging its core capabilities in functional biomaterials and bioactives to develop enhanced antiviral protection products for front line workers involved in infectious disease response.
Top Dog Manufacturing makes protective clothing and curtains that can be used in all kinds of industries, like food processing and hospitality. Since Top Dog’s products are health-safe, their personal protective equipment is now in demand for use in hospitals and long-term care facilities as well as by paramedics, firefighters, dentists and other frontline workers worldwide.
Tronosjet Maintenance Inc (TJM) has turned its 3D printing, manufacturing and design expertise toward producing titanium dividers (splitter manifolds), so that in emergency situations, multiple patients can receive breathing assistance from a single ventilator. TJM has also developed a 3D printed rubber strap to assist in converting sleep apnea masks for treating patients before they need a ventilator. Working with Respiratory Therapy experts on PEI and in Alberta, in a project facilitated by the BioAlliance, both products are ready to be produced and shipped while TJM waits for federal manufacturing licensing.
VetNOW‘s telemedicine technology has received new prominence under pandemic conditions, allowing local veterinarians to reach veterinary specialists at a distance through their online platform, providing improved care for food animals and companion animals. A new partnership with Elanco Animal Health has made the VetNOW’s technology available for free for two months for veterinarians who enroll in Canada and the United States.
Faculty and staff at the University of Prince Edward Island’s Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering are designing and producing personal protective equipment that can be sterilized and reused to keep provincial healthcare workers safe. Read the full story here
Hiring needs within the Bioscience companies on PEI during COVID-19 restrictions
On PEI, 60 bioscience companies focus on some of the following areas: human health & nutrition, fish health, animal health & nutrition, human/animal health diagnostics, contract manufacturing services, and medical devices.
Over 1,900 people are employed in careers such as scientist, quality control/assurance, engineering, production, and business administration.
Bioscience companies are considered essential services, and most all of them are operating as usual while adhering to necessary restrictions set out by the Public Health Officer.
BioAlliance staff suggest job seekers should definitely continue to market themselves and apply for job opportunities. “We encourage job seekers to send us their resumes and indicate the companies they are interested in working for,” says Vivian Beer, Manager of Human Resource Strategy with PEI BioAlliance. “We will add the resumes to our online library which is shared with employers.
“On an ongoing basis, companies like to have a good pipeline of talented candidates that are well-matched to their operations. This is not a time to relax job search efforts; it is really a time to ramp up efforts to stand out of the crowd.
“A few companies have temporarily paused recruiting, but other companies are still hiring,” says Vivian. “Some of our companies have even experienced a spike in revenue during this time.”
Some of the companies who are still advertising positions since March include the following:
- Center for Aquaculture Technologies Canada
- Chinova Bioworks
- Island Abbey Foods
Examples of roles being advertised include quality assurance/control, product manager, production manager, scientist/lab technician and process development/production.
Current job postings can be viewed at www.peibioalliance.com/job-postings/
To request to be added to BioAlliance mailing list and to receive notifications on new postings, visit www.peibioalliance.com.
Submitted by PEI BioAlliance