Bio Nebraska and Members Featured in Lincoln Journal Star

Today, an op-ed (“Local View: Bioscience sector stepping up”) by Rob Owen, our executive director, was published in the Lincoln Journal Star about our state’s bioscience sector stepping up during the age of coronavirus. 

“Local View: Bioscience sector stepping up”

Rob Owen for Lincoln Journal Star
May 26, 2020

Even as the coronavirus has changed so many things about our day-to-day, closing restaurants, bars, gyms and keeping parents home from work and kids home from school, there is one thing the coronavirus can’t change — Nebraskan’s spirit of hard work and sense of community.

As the executive director of Bio Nebraska, I have seen how our science and biotech sectors work every day to improve the lives of Nebraskans. During the coronavirus pandemic it is no different. We have seen local companies and research institutions step up with innovative solutions to the problems facing our healthcare industry right now.

In the face of hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment shortages at hospitals, companies all over Nebraska have come up with innovative solutions.

With help from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Green Plains and the Nebraska Ethanol Board, to name just a few, a temporary hand sanitizer production facility has been erected in the parking lot of Nebraska Innovation Campus, turning ethanol into hand sanitizer.

When Methodist Hospital reached out to Streck about their difficulties maintaining a supply of hand sanitizer, Streck answered by modifying their manufacturer process to address the hospital’s immediate need.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center have come up with an innovative solution to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and relieving some of the stress caused by the shortage of PPE.

Researchers have created a new protective barrier made of a clear, lightweight plastic. The barrier goes over patients who need to be intubated in order to provide another layer of protection between healthcare workers and patients who may have COVID-19.

Diagnostic testing has been another area where companies are working overtime to provide innovative solutions and supplies to keep up with demand.

Recently, BD (Becton Dickinson & Company) received two Emergency Use Authorizations from the FDA for COVID-19 tests. BD is also working on a serology test that detects COVID-19 antibodies. Both of these developments are instrumental in supporting state efforts to ramp up testing capabilities.

These developments, combined with BD’s expansive Nebraska workforce in Broken Bow, Columbus and Holdrege working to manufacture medical devices and technology critical to patient care, will be an integral part of the collective response to this pandemic in Nebraska and across the country.

In addition to the work being done to slow the spread of the virus, the University of Nebraska Medical Center is taking part in a nationwide clinical trial of a new possible treatment for COVID-19 called remdesivir. Researchers are hoping to have a first analysis within weeks which should help them understand whether the drug is working.

All of this activity is just a sample of how Nebraska companies, research institutions and workers are coming together to defeat COVID-19. There are so many other Nebraska companies, like ADS Biotec, LI-COR and Nature Technology that are also in this fight, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Nebraskans are tackling this challenge head-on.

I have faith that through the hard work of Nebraskans and researchers from every corner of the United States we will defeat COVID-19. Everyone can help in these efforts simply by washing their hands and staying home, which will give our researchers and doctors more time to find the treatments we need. We are all in this together after all.