From Covid to Cancer: Why New Jersey Will be the Future Hub of Health Tech

If you’re looking for revolutionary HealthTech, look no further than New Jersey. Apprentice.io, headquartered in Jersey City,  is known for intelligent AR and AI connected technology used to support critical pharma manufacturing processes from the development of covid vaccines through to the manufacturing of cancer therapies. 

TechUnited brought back Angelo Stracquatanio, CEO & Co-Founder, Apprentice.io, to get his expert feedback on the progress of Covid-19 as well as an insider’s look at the development and evolution of cancer treatment and gene therapy. Learn more about Apprentice.io at https://www.apprentice.io!

The COVID-19 Vaccine and its changing distribution goals
The United States has progressed tremendously in vaccination rates. Today, 62% of the US population is fully vaccinated, and 74% currently have at least one dose. Because of these impressive numbers, the goals of vaccine marketing and distribution have shifted to outside of the United States. Creating infrastructure for as many nations as possible to create and distribute their own effective vaccines is the next step in combating the global pandemic. 

The number one  issue in pharmaceutical  development isn’t just money, it’s time
It costs $1.8 billion overall to develop a new drug, and few drugs are even able to reach the market. With numbers like these, the financial roadblocks to quickly and effectively develop new medicine need to be addressed. New medicines only have 7 years of exclusivity to their developer,  so pharmaceutical developers are always looking for ways to expedite each part of their processes to make the most of their expended resources.

So, for many reasons, time is extremely important at all ends of the drug development process. AR (Augmented Reality) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) can help in speeding up processes, making them safer and optimized for production. 

How the COVID-19 Vaccine was produced so quickly, and how it’s a bright  sign for the future
Efficiency without losing quality is the goal for medical development. This has never been more relevant than with the COVID-19 pandemic, which pressured vaccine developers to improve and expedite their usual steps of development to get vaccines to market as soon as possible. The difference with the COVID vaccine is that they took all of the different stages of [typical development] and collapsed them, so that they’re happening at the same time,” explains Angelo.

The typical amount of clinical trials were conducted for the COVID vaccines, but were simultaneous instead of using the “waterfall method” of one type of clinical trial following another. Moderna is the perfect case study for this process. They created a diverse set of clinical trials by spreading them out among age, gender, and race groups, along with geographical locations that targeted breakout hotspots. Conducting many types of trials at the same time not only speeds up the process, but also creates a larger and more diverse data set of information for feedback.

Moderna also compressed the typical vaccine manufacturing  schedule. Instead of going from small-scale production, to medium, to mass production, they went straight to mass production. The rapidity and success of this method may act as a model for medical developments in the future.

Cell and gene therapy – personalized medicine for cancer and more
New Jersey has one of the largest cell therapy centers in Warren, NJ – Celgene. What they do is use a patient’s own white blood cells to teach it how to fight cancer cells, before reintroducing it back to the patient. This personalized method is highly effective and eliminates the issues of one-size-fits-all cancer treatments.

This revolutionary treatment can act as a model for the future of medicine. With help from AI to aid in speeding and 

Crisper is a way to edit genes to remove mutations. Most medicines are treatments, but Crisper aims to be the first true cure by completely removing diseases from the body. Intellia recently had the first successful, FDA-approved trials of Crisper. This is a massive step forward for this type of technology, and a space of growth for AI software in healthcare, to handle the extremely complex production process of individualized cures and medicines. 

This will eventually lead to a more localized method of medicine production. For example, a hospital would be able to formulate personalized treatments for patients in the hospital itself without outsourcing to specialist sites. This will also connect manufacturers directly with patients, to track outcomes and improve their experiences.

New Jersey has startup potential and a proven track record of success
New Jersey is home to some of the largest tech companies, including IBM. Major businesses have already gravitated towards our state for its deep talent pool and key geographic resources, and with continued support, it can grow into an even larger hub for tech companies to grow.

Apprentice.io is one of the fastest growing companies in the past year, which is greatly due to its Jersey City location. New Jersey has the highest number of scientists per capita, so talent can easily be pulled from the area and also within the tristate area. The state is set up structurally to pull both new team members and customers. 

“As we start to scale, the footprint will expand,” says Angelo, “but we will ultimately be rooted back to New Jersey.”

Thanks again to Apprentice.io for powering this discussion and supporting TechUnited:NJ!

Catch the full episode on Youtube or listen on the go on Spotify.

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