Biotech firms sell South Carolina to Polish scientists

The Palmetto State has landed some big-name European companies over the years: notably Michelin, BMW and Bosch.

But a medical sociologist at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine wants to make molecules and DNA as readily known in the vocabulary of industry recruits as the nuts-and-bolts companies already geared up across South Carolina.

“Europeans have always found South Carolina a good place to locate their companies. But now, instead of focusing only on large consumer goods manufacturers that produce cars and tires that we can touch, we’re also focusing on small biotech companies that produce molecules that can be seen only through electron microscopes,” said Emerson Smith, president of Metromark Market Research Inc. of Columbia.

Metromark, in addition to working with hospitals and physicians to provide quality care and market analysis, brings together biotech companies in the U.S. to collaborate with companies in Europe.

“It is a different scale of manufacturing, but one that holds a great deal of potential in terms of expanding our knowledge economy in South Carolina to create high-paying jobs and to attract U.S. and European investors,” he said.

To that end, Brad Goodwin, CEO of CharlestonPharma, a Charleston-based company focused on developing innovative therapeutic antibodies and related diagnostic tests for cancer patients, and two other biotech company representatives from South Carolina were in Warsaw, Poland, recently.

At the invitation of Poland’s Ministry of Economy, the three scientists were representing the state’s medical biotech industry.

Goodwin could not be reached for comment about his trip experience, but Igor Roninson, president of cancer-research firm Senex Biotechnology Inc. of Columbia and a professor at the University of South Carolina, said the trip was rewarding.

“We met with a number of Polish companies and identified potential collaborators and potential subcontractors,” Roninson said. “We are planning to follow up on those initial contacts and see what can develop.”

Smith said the three men used the opportunity to tell Polish scientists about the opportunities available in South Carolina through the S.C. Research Authority, state research universities and regional business alliances.

The Warsaw conference brought together scientists from South Carolina and Poland to learn about each other’s research, how patents from biotech companies are being commercialized and how the companies can work together across the Atlantic.

Medical biotech companies are discovering drugs and therapies to treat cancer, heart disease, stroke and other health problems, according to Smith.

Once these drugs are tested in clinical trials and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, patients in Charleston, Warsaw and elsewhere in the world can benefit from the discoveries made by research teams at the three South Carolina biotech companies and at other biotech companies based in the state, Smith said.



Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.

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