JCB Laboratories, Wichita, Kan., is a compound drug solution company. The skilled team of pharmacists and lab technicians at JCB, led by Brian Williamson, president and CEO, produces sterile, injectable drugs for a variety of clients in the medical field such as pain management centers, same-day surgery centers, hospitals and dialysis clinics. JCB’s products meet the needs of individual patients, combining all of their regularly administered medications into a single injection. The company also offers a cost-effective solution for health-care providers, combining medications commonly prescribed together for patient treatment. JCB was founded on the premise of exceptional customer service, speedy delivery and efficient follow-through on all orders. Additionally, JCB’s facilities ensure the best in quality control, with all products prepared in a ‘clean room’ where particulate matter is controlled with a unique air filtration system. All products are tested through a third party before being sent to a client for use with patients.
Since the 2004 launch of JCB Labs, the company’s revenue has consistently climbed by 30 percent each year, requiring additional production to continue the fight against nationwide drug shortages. To accommodate this aggressive growth and meet the company’s production goal of quadrupled output, JCB needed funds to add jobs and expand its facilities.
The Kansas Bioscience Authority awarded $225,000 to JCB Labs to create 15 new jobs and expand its lab space.
JCB Labs is aggressively fighting drug shortages across the nation and making strides towards its production goals with the help of the KBA’s investment. It was most recently recognized as one of the nation’s leading providers of the leukemia drug methotrexate, which is in short supply. Methotrexate is just one of many drugs in short supply or on back order for which JCB fills the gap.
The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases was founded in 2010 by Kansas Bioscience Eminent Scholar Juergen A. Richt, D.V.M, Ph.D. The center, a Kansas State University research facility, exists to enhance the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s capabilities in developing countermeasures for high-priority foreign animal diseases. Richt, with his professional roots in the veterinary field, trains a specialized workforce to defend the U.S. against agroterrorism and other catastrophic events involving animal pathogens, taking a proactive approach to national resiliency and the prevention of economic hardship in the event of an attack. This includes running surveillance on existing pathogens; detection of new, previously unknown pathogens; and response to diagnostic findings on a national and international front. CEEZAD is a biosafety level 3 research facility, meaning research is conducted on agents that if directly exposed to humans would have serious or life threatening effects.
While much of the center is funded by the Department of Homeland Security, over a six-year period, CEEZAD required additional funds to complement the initiatives funded by the DHS grant. The additional funding was needed to support vaccine projects on Rift Valley fever and foot-and-mouth disease, design and develop diagnostic test systems, develop detection systems for known and synthetic bioterrorism threats, support projects involving threat response, and expand education and outreach initiatives.
To support the DHS grant, the KBA awarded $4 million to CEEZAD.
The KBA’s supplemental funds made it possible for CEEZAD to pursue these projects to their full potential. Additionally, the KBA grant supported workforce development for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and expansion of CEEZAD’s Ad Hoc Program, which funds new and emerging projects.
Since CEEZAD’s 2010 inauguration, the facility is well on its way to meeting its projected outcomes and has made significant progress on a number of critical projects, such sending scientists to Mongolia to investigate a string of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in camel and sheep.
In 2007, Bo Fishback and Maria Stecklein Flynn decided to transition from their careers at the Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. to invest in the local science community as entrepreneurs. They teamed up with scientist Cory Berkland, Ph.D., who was then working at the University of Illinois, to start a research and development company. Their startup became Orbis Biosciences, and in 2008 they secured patents for their technology.
Using precision particle fabrication, Orbis provides controlled-release delivery systems that manipulate particle uniformity, shell thickness, and porosity in pharmaceutical, consumer, food, and manufacturing products. This technology is significant in that it offers clients an economically feasible way to evolve or even reinvent their products. For example, Orbis’ micro technology can mask the flavor of medicine to make it easier for children to take, or it can control the release of a vaccine’s active ingredient so that multiple innoculations aren’t required over time.
Operating its lab out of incubator space at University of Kansas Medical Center, Orbis has created 16 product solutions for 12 clients during the past three years. Its business goal is to complete testing and manufacturability on market-ready products and introduce them to the market while maintaining research on the products Orbis has in the funnel for other client work.
Though Orbis was making significant progress in applying its technology to clients’ unique needs, the company needed to diversify staff. The majority of employees were lab scientists and bio and chemical engineers aggressively working on proof-of-concept projects, while Flynn alone handled business development. To meet its business goals, Orbis needed to apply funds toward showcasing its innovation and pursuing new applications in its target industries.
Orbis pursued a Small Business Innovation Research Grant match through the Kansas Bioscience Authority and was awarded $347,550.
Using the funding from the KBA, Orbis hired a director of technology development to double its lab-to-market efforts and control cash flow across the lab and business departments, making healthy pursuit of its business goal possible. The lab was able to sustain its research through the application of grants while the new director focused on the commercialization process and selling products to new markets. Without the KBA’s support, Orbis would not have been able to bring that needed business support and expertise in-house.
Orbis gained additional benefits working with KBA’s experts on best practices for applying for grants as well as participating in potential scientific collaborations.
In 1995, Donna Johnson launched the research and development company Pinnacle Technology, headquartered in Lawrence, Kan. It focused on developing agricultural, renewable energy, and engineering solutions such as creating plastics from straw. Pinnacle received funding from various state offices and departments as well as private industries.
In time, Johnson began to receive a number of inquiries about bio-medical products and decided to partner with a University of Kansas team that was creating a real-time glucometer sensor. After four years of development, the glucometer product launched and Pinnacle continued its work in the biomed field, particularly in the area of real-time neurophysiologic biosensors used for sleep, seizure, and chemical testing.
As more clients invested in the sensors, they requested more and more tools to enable a seamless testing setup. To meet that need, Pinnacle created and produced integrated bases, cages, cameras, rotators, and other equipment to facilitate testing with the sensors.
Pharmaceutical companies, research hospitals, universities, and members of the scientific community world over now use Pinnacle’s products to research and pursue advancements and solutions for neurological diseases and disorders of all kinds.
Though Pinnacle’s products were cutting edge, it did not have marketing and sales to support its innovations, and thus no way to effectively communicate about the company and its products to potential investors. This was particularly challenging at trade shows, where much of the business in this sector is conducted with decision makers face-to-face.
Johnson pursued a Small Business Innovation Research Grant match through the Kansas Bioscience Authority and was awarded $425,000 to develop Pinnacle’s sales and marketing materials.
With KBA funding, Johnson hired a technical writer, graphic designer, and web developer who together created a new website, brochures, manuals, catalogs, training videos, and a quarterly newsletter for Pinnacle and its products. The redesign and writing of the manuals accompanying the testing setup were particularly beneficial for customers in foreign countries where photos and diagrams are essential in giving guidance on how to correctly assemble and operate the equipment. With these resources, Pinnacle substantially increased its presence and visibility at trade shows, forums, and conferences attended by major industry players.
Johnson said KBA’s funding accelerated Pinnacle’s growth as an R&D, manufacturing and sales organization with global reach. In the last year, Pinnacle’s sales doubled, as did the number of staff professionals. Johnson’s vision is to expand into other areas, such as alternative consumer, environmental, military, and food processing applications for Pinnacle’s products.
Ventria Bioscience, Junction City, Kan., has commercialized a process to derive recombinant proteins from rice plants, which saves lives and makes treatment possible for a variety of global diseases. The innovative process, called Express Tec, is manufactured in facilities in Kansas and involves depositing plant peptides into the seed during maturation. The seed is then harvested and stored and at a later point the protein is extracted from the seed to be processed for the health care applications, cell-based bioscience and zoonotic industries.
A number of treatment advancements are made possible by this technology. Ventria’s products comprise two proteins found naturally in breast milk and, if administered in a vaccine to a malnourished child suffering from diarrhea, helps the child recover faster and regain strength, and it reduces the likelihood of relapse. Globally, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under five.
Following a record harvest in 2008, Ventria confirmed the possibility of growing rice in Kansas soil, which was previously believed to be possible only in sub-tropical climates. Ventria then had an urgent need to boost production in Kansas, requiring additional staff to help the organization meet production goals.
The Kansas Bioscience Authority offered supplemental funding to Ventria that allowed the organization to add more than 19 full-time and seven part-time staff members in Junction City.
With the addition of staff, Ventria now has full-scale commercial production under way. The products are safe, sustainable and affordable on a large scale globally, placing them in high demand the world over. The funding allowed bioscience jobs and activity to grow in Kansas, and the potential impact of Express Tec to the industries it serves is significant.