We all know North Carolina’s renowned Research Triangle Park for its cutting-edge health and biotech research. With hundreds of companies in RTP alone, it can be difficult to keep track of all the new developments. To help you begin, we compiled a list of five new technologies which could soon impact North Carolina.
Biotech in the Research Triangle: COVID-19 Tests, Insecticide and More
1. Rapid COVID-19 Tests
BioMedomics, a clinical diagnostics company in Morrisville, has developed a rapid COVID-19 blood test. In just 15 minutes, the new test can detect whether a patient has encountered COVID-19. In March, BioMedomics announced a partnership with medical technology company BD to make this test available in the U.S., where it could improve patient care and help states like North Carolina track COVID-19 exposure.
2. Skin-repairing Matrices
Sometimes, your body needs extra help healing wounds. If a large area of skin is severely damaged, doctors might apply a wound healing matrix. Think of the matrix like a high-tech bandage that encourages new, healthy cells to grow and rebuild the skin. Merakris Therapeutics designed the Dermacyte® Matrix to heal ulcers (common symptoms among people with diabetes). While we know doctors can prevent diabetic ulcers with proper care, we should also note that new products are available if needed.
3. Plant-based Vaccines
While plant-based diets may be all the rage these days, plant-based vaccine manufacturing is still a new idea. Medicago modifies plants to produce “virus-like” particles (VLPs) – harmless proteins that mimic the size and shape of real viruses. VLPs in vaccines can train your body to fight off illnesses like the flu. Currently, these plant-made vaccines have only reached clinical trials, but Medicago’s manufacturing facility in RTP will ensure that North Carolina stays on the cutting edge of this new technique.
4. Bioengineered Insecticides
Insect control is vital to North Carolina’s crop production, but mainstream synthetic insecticides can harm both humans and the environment. And so, Vestaron has developed an alternative using insect-repelling peptides. Peptides are small molecules made by living organisms using instructions found in DNA. To create their products, Vestaron inserts those DNA instructions into yeast bacteria cells. The yeast then follow those instructions, acting like tiny machines to produce the peptides. Has it worked so far? Well, the EPA recently recognized Vestaron’s bioinsecticide SPEAR for environmentally-friendly design.
5. Bioengineered Cement Tiles
Builders use cement widely for building and infrastructure projects, but traditional cement production can release plenty of carbon into the environment. BioMASON has a more sustainable approach; using bacteria to “grow” cement instead. They combine leftover concrete aggregates with bacteria and press everything into a mold. The bacteria then harden the mixture into a building-ready product.
These biotech projects are in different stages of development, but all showcase the ingenuity of scientists around the Research Triangle. Plus, many of these companies are hiring – check out our guide for North Carolina job seekers and visit biotech company websites to learn more.