Response to COVID-19

Since the world first learned of a new coronavirus infection, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Faculty Investigators and Associate Companies that call the biotech campus home have pivoted some of their efforts to battle the new invisible enemy, COVID-19.

Testing:

The ability to quickly and accurately detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, is vitally important not only to treat, isolate, or hospitalize infected individuals but also to monitor and track how the virus is spreading within a community.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies residing on HudsonAlpha’s biotech campus increased laboratory testing capacity and launched point-of-care testing diagnostics.

Treatment:

While the ultimate tool for eradicating a new virus is a viral vaccine, vaccine development takes a lot of time. Developing treatments to reduce or alleviate symptoms of the virus is equally important on the road to eradicating SARS-CoV-2.

Several HudsonAlpha Faculty Investigators and Associate Companies on the biotech campus are working tirelessly to produce neutralizing monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 disease symptoms by blocking its viral entry into our cells.

Sequencing:

Why do some people get really sick and others don’t? Can we test a person’s blood and determine if they have been infected by or have immunity to SARS-CoV-2? These are the type of questions that HudsonAlpha Faculty Investigators and Associate Companies are trying to answer using their genetic sequencing expertise.

Through a project led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HudsonAlpha is also sequencing the viral genome from people who have been affected by the disease in an effort to monitor the spread and mutation of the virus.

Environmental Monitoring:

Viral testing and contact tracing are important factors in determining the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in communities. However, our understanding of how the virus is transmitted and spread is still growing.

Projects studying the transmission of the virus through the air in enclosed areas, and the detection of dead viral particles in wastewater to monitor pending outbreaks in a community are among some of the environmental monitoring projects ongoing on HudsonAlpha’s campus.

The strength of HudsonAlpha lies in the culture of collaboration and a unique structure that encourages entrepreneurship. That strength is currently being demonstrated through the research and development of diagnostic and treatment tools to combat COVID-19. Companies among those on the HudsonAlpha campus working to combat this disease:

Alimetrix is a molecular diagnostic laboratory providing PCR testing to identify the Covid-19 live virus.

Working on various aspects of COVID-19 respiratory viral infection, transmission, protection and treatment.

Providing testing for COVID-19 with molecular testing panel that not only detects the virus that causes COVID-19, but also five bacterial pathogens associated with respiratory complications in high risk patients.

Continues to support the advancement of COVID-19 diagnostic testing and vaccine development by providing expert biospecimen solutions, genomic, immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry services.

Foresight Biosciences has human cell-expressed both the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the COVID-19 spike protein and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) for general research and commercial use.

Developed a fully automated, random access system for the rapid detection of infectious pathogens, including COVID-19.

Developed a technology that could collect the antibodies from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and produce them in large quantities to then be used for treating patients with active disease.

Developing affordable, non-invasive, routine screening of populations to identify infected individuals including those that are pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic to make workplaces and schools safer.

Performing human diagnostics, manufacturing COVID-19 diagnostic products and developing COVID-19 assays.

Prozone Water Products has published the results of a study investigating the use of UV radiation and ozone treatments as a possible disinfectant for n95 masks.

Supplying reagents to researchers working on COVID-19.

Operational Status as of : Operating under restricted campus access

HudsonAlpha is closely monitoring the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. The health, safety, and well-being of our employees, associate companies and campus guests is our top priority. We have issued the following policies and recommendations regarding our employees, associate companies, visitors and program participants:

Use of Face Coverings on Campus

The latest guidance from the CDC recommends everyone wear a face covering when in proximity to others. This is especially important in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain and is intended to help curb the spread of the virus by reducing potential exposure by people who are not showing symptoms. (By wearing the face coverings, we are protecting those around us from potential exposure.)

We require anyone working on campus to wear a face mask when in close proximity (less than 6 feet) of others or in any public spaces (entering and exiting the building, conference rooms, hallways, coffee stations, restrooms, café, etc.)

Face masks are available through the regular supply process from the HudsonAlpha stockroom.

For a helpful tutorial on the proper way to wear and dispose of facemasks, watch this Shareable Science video from Dr. Neil Lamb.

Campus Visitor Policy

Campus Access

  • Our buildings are closed to general public access
  • All exterior doors of our campus buildings require badge access
  • No children are allowed inside campus buildings
  • Visitors with a business need to be on campus need to contact an occupant directly for building access, and must be escorted at all times
    • Hosts are responsible for screening visitors with the following criteria:
      • Not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19
      • Not been exposed to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days
      • Guests must follow same prevention policies on campus as employees (wearing masks in common areas, practicing social distancing, etc)
      • Employee must log their guests via Envoy

Café Operations

  • The Anita Loya Cafe is open only to campus occupants (and business-essential escorted visitors) and is providing CARRY OUT ONLY orders
    • All atrium seating for the cafe has been removed. Orders will be provided in carry-out containers; no trays or plates will be used. Please remember to follow the signs posted and observe appropriate social distancing (~6 ft) while in line in the cafe.
    • Orders for catering will continue to be fulfilled, as long as they meet the criteria outlined by the Governor (appropriate distance/space provided).

Campus Operations

All other campus support functions (i.e.; shipping & receiving, janitorial, etc.) remain operational

Remote Work Policy

All HudsonAlpha employees whose job duties permit, are required to work from home to the extent possible.

In cases when employees of HudsonAlpha or Associate Companies need to come to campus, additional steps to enhance social distancing, such as staggering shifts to reduce the number of employees present at a given time, are encouraged.

Travel Policy

  • All HudsonAlpha-sponsored travel is prohibited
  • Personal travel by mass transit or air is discouraged
  • Personal travel or participation in social activities should be undertaken with extreme caution and consideration of risk avoidance measures (social distancing, wearing masks, health and well-being of others). See this Shareable Science video for helpful guidance for assessing risk.

Education Events Postponed

  • HudsonAlpha has postponed all in-person Educational Outreach programs and activities until further notice. If you have a question about a specific activity, please email edoutreach@hudsonalpha.org.
  • Information and updates about rescheduled programs can be found at  hudsonalpha.org/education.
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