CEO Stephen Boyd, FreMon Scientific's Farideh Bischoff and Thomas Rosenbloom with the ZipThaw, a device that controls the thawing of plasma. Bischoff is holding one of Boyd's smart bags.
LEE, Mass. — Local manufacturer Boyd Technologies will be expanding its capacity to produce personal protective equipment and is collaborating with a life sciences company FreMon Scientific on a device for COVID-19 therapies.
Company officials had invited U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to tour the facility on Tuesday and hear an update on their work in the fight against novel coronavirus.
"This visit to Boyd Technologies today reassured my firm belief that there are incredible things happening in the life sciences industry right here in western Massachusetts, especially as our nation address the health and economic crises due to the pandemic," said Neal. "Ultimately, our economy won't recover until we beat the virus. That is why Boyd Technologies' work is so important, as is their partnership with FreMon Scientific.
"As chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, I look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to continue to support the life sciences industries. Not only are they important to our health as a nation, they drive the economy across Massachusetts."
CEO Stephen Boyd said Neal has always been a great supporter of Boyd Technologies, which make single-use devices and components.
In the next two weeks, Boyd Technologies will receive the first of two major PPE-producing machines and will have installs going in to the new year. By July, the company will have the capability of making 60 million surgical and N95 respirator masks. The company received a nearly $2 million state Manufacturing Emergency Response Team grant in May to boost its production.
Boyd Technologies has been working with FreMon Scientific, which has developed devices that are increasing the domestic capacity of therapy and vaccine development as well as the breakthrough technology in the delivery of those drugs and therapies.
Boyd is manufacturing ZipSleeves for FreMon's ZipThaw device, which thaws frozen plasma. The ZipSleeve is a disposable, protective envelope with patented sensors. The plasma is inserted into the sleeve and then into the ZipThaw device. It is designed to minimize the risk of contamination and to accurately measure the temperature of the frozen specimen itself, not its surroundings.
"COVID-19 has dislocated health care in a tremendous way, and it's innovations like what we're doing with FreMon that I think will help beat this thing down," Boyd said.
Neal said the statical data about COVID-19 is pretty daunting, with almost 110,000 American patients hospitalized daily, 1,000 dying, and an estimated 10 million American testing positive since March.
The Springfield Democrat was pleased with President-elect Joe Biden's recent announcement of a formal commission for COVID-19 and hopes that it will smooth a path to finding the cure.
"We need to begin to embrace science, creativity, and there's nothing wrong with listening to experts," Neal said.
He also spoke about America not receiving a substantial amount of PPE to battle the virus, leaving many hospitals short of the vital protective equipment.
"Let's be candid," Neal said. "America got caught back footed on PPE!"
FreMon CEO Farideh Bischoff, a molecular geneticist with a doctorate in cancer biology, flew to the Berkshires from Houston (and followed protocols). President and Chief Legal Officer and Director of FreMon Thomas Rosenbloom came in from the Boston area.
Rosenbloom explained that the company is virtual for now, though the center of gravity is in Southern California.
The ZipThaw received its initial U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance last December. Is now going through the process of getting commercial production.
"They put all of their thinking into the design of the device," Bischoff said. "And the time in which it went from R&D to commercial is really short. It's really amazing what they were able to do."
Rosenbloom said this machine is unique in the plasma-thawing world because it does not just monitor the environment inside of the device, but the sensor on the bag monitors the actual temperature of the plasma.
"What we do is we control that process," Bischoff said. "It's called controlled thawing and the 'smart bag' is a critical component because it has a wireless chip that communicated with the device and it tells the device the temperature of the bag."
Through the ZipSleeve that Boyd Technologies is making, the plasma gets isolated in that bag so it does not spill and create waste.
This device went through testing with FDA for plasma. The company wants to use it for convalescent plasma, which is using plasma from an individual who has recovered from an illness to treat someone who is ill with the same disease. This treatment is being speculated as a possible therapy for COVID-19 and has been used at Berkshire Medical Center as part of a trial.
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Pittsfield Fire Victim Flown to Mass General With Severe Burns
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A city man is in critical condition after being rescued by firefighters from a burning second-floor apartment on Friday.
The victim was found suffering from severe burns in a room next to the kitchen where the fire started in Apartment 4 at 483 Peck's Road. He was taken to Berkshire Medical Center by Action Ambulance and later flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
The blaze in the six-unit structure was reported at about noontime. Brown smoke was reported coming from the eaves of the building and a hose was stretched to the second floor apartment to extinguish the kitchen fire. Crews from Engines 3 and 5 entered the building and found the victim. Personnel from Engine 1 did a primary search of the structure for any other individuals and to determine the extent of the fire.
The fire damage was largely confined to single apartment but the occupant of the unit underneath on the first floor was displaced. Red Cross was contacted to assist the person. The rest of the building suffered degrees of smoke damage.
The temporary shelter set up at the former St. Joseph's School to comply with pandemic restrictions was closed in July, leading to many of the shelter's occupants camping in Springside Park.
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Mayor Linda Tyer pitched this program back in 2019 to help eligible residents improve their homes. This program would provide zero-interest loans to residents for undertaking certain home improvement projects in an effort to improve the housing stock in the city.
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Mayor Linda Tyer this week said the city of Pittsfield is feeling discouraged from the lack of community organizations willing to host a warming shelter that will house homeless individuals during the hours that the St. Joseph's temporary winter shelter on Maplewood Avenue is closed. click for more
This has been a long-standing tradition between the sheriff's office and the Christian Center. For the last decade, staff and inmates at the Berkshire County House of Corrections have prepared Thanksgiving meals for hundreds of people at the center under the guidance of Food Service Director... click for more