QualTex Launches Cellular Therapy Testing Services

Lab to support researchers developing new treatments for global healthcare market

QualTex Laboratories, a subsidiary of San Antonio-based nonprofit BioBridge Global, has expanded its offerings to include cellular therapy testing services in support of advanced therapeutics clinical developers.

The new service provides a full range of research use only (RUO), current good manufacturing practices (cGMP), and good laboratory practices (GLP) qualified assays to support a variety of cellular therapy industry testing needs.

The cellular therapy testing service will allow QualTex to collaborate with clients to get their products to market, while at the same time adhering to the strictest quality standards. Through these collaborations, QualTex will work to develop new assays for the next generation of lifesaving treatments. 

“Every client and every project is unique. Our team’s goals are simple – be nimble enough to meet the needs of clients and at the same time follow the quality practices that are at the core of our organization,” said Ward Carter, Chief Operating Officer of QualTex Laboratories.

The laboratory can expand cell samples and either perform testing in-house or work with partner laboratories to provide a certificate of analysis, as well as individual test reports. 

This new QualTex service offering includes: 

  • Analytical assay development
  • Cell line characterization
  • Expandability and potency testing 
  • Lot and final release assays 
  • Stability testing 

“We have quality processes in place allowing us to provide phase-appropriate and risk-based testing solutions assuring the safety, purity, and potency of cell-based products,” Carter said.

Martin Landon, Chief Executive Officer of BioBridge Global, added “The launch of our cellular testing services provides another expansion to our end-to-end capabilities supporting regenerative and personalized medicine here in San Antonio and across the globe.”

Quick Community Labs launch possible only through local cooperation

COVID-19 testing facility based at BioBridge Global receives $1 million boost 

Getting the Community Labs COVID-19 testing program up and running in just three months is a testament to the collaborative nature of the San Antonio healthcare community, leaders of the efforts said in a panel discussion during San Antonio City Fest on Thursday. 

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my many decades in the field,” said BBG Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rachel Beddard, who played a major role in getting the testing laboratory established. “It was honor to be a part of it, and I am proud of what our city and our team have accomplished.” 

Organizers of Community Labs, led by former Rackspace chairman Graham Weston, were able to go from an idea over lunch in July to more than 1,700 tests of students and staff in the Somerset Independent School District as of Thursday. 

The tests are designed to identify individuals carrying and spreading the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 who do not have symptoms, what Weston refers to as “super-spreaders.” 

The short-term plan is to scale up testing in a lab located on the third floor of the BioBridge Global Headquarters Building, using widely available equipment and testing materials to avoid supply chain issues that have hampered other testing efforts. 

Community Labs received a boost this week, Weston announced during the panel discussion, when Carlos Alvarez, chairman and CEO of The Gambrinus Company, pledged $1 million to double the current testing capacity of the lab from 12,000 to 25,000 tests a day. 

“Our goal is to test 100,000 kids in schools,” Weston said. “If we test 100,000, we can make school the safest place these kids can go.” 

He noted that there have been four positive tests so far out of 1,786, four cases that could have spread quickly if those with it displayed no symptoms. 

Dr. Beddard said she greeted the idea of BBG becoming a partner in Community Labs with great enthusiasm, calling it “one of those aha moments, where you definitely realize you want to be part of something.” 

“We do a lot of testing here already – this year, we will do 60 million high-throughput, fast turnaround tests,” she said. “We also have a lot of experience with PCR testing, which means we can do it quickly to meet the need for the 24-hor turnaround time.” 

Community Labs is just the second lab in the country to receive the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration to conduct the highly accurate PCR tests at a sensitivity level high enough to identify a large percentage of positive tests, Weston said. 

The nonprofit lab’s long-term goal is to scale up to high levels of testing at an affordable cost — $35 per test at the moment, compared to $150 for comparable PCR tests – and then share what it learns about the process so labs can be established across the state and nation. 

“Were turning every bit of information we learn to anyone who asks about it,” said Tullos Wells, Managing Director of the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and one of the co-founders of Community Labs, along with Weston and Bruce Bugg, Chairman of the Tobin Foundation. “We want everyone to do this assurance testing so kids will be safe to go back to school and their parents can go back to work.” 

Wells called the effort “the most consequential thing the Kronkosky Foundation has done in the last 25 years.” 

Weston said the collaboration to get Community Labs up and running was a testament to the collaborative spirit in the local medical community. 

“It’s a great San Antonio story,” he said. 

City of San Antonio expands COVID-19 testing to asymptomatic individuals at City’s no cost test sites

Beginning Monday, October 5, the City of San Antonio’s no cost testing sites will have a soft launch to expand testing to asymptomatic individuals.  The test sites are located at Freeman Coliseum, Cuellar Community Center and Ramirez Community Center. All locations will be able to provide testing daily starting October 12.

Monday October 5th from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Cuellar Community Center
5626 San Fernando St.

San Antonio, TX 78237

Tuesday, October 6th from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Ramirez Community Center

1011 Gillette Blvd.
San Antonio, TX 78219

Wednesday, October 7th from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Must schedule an appointment at 830-391-8559

Freeman Coliseum

3201 E. Houston St.
San Antonio, TX 78219

The testing expansion is a partnership between Metro Health, Community Labs and BioBridge Global.

“Throughout this response, our goal has been to make testing more accessible by leveraging partnerships with our community and relying on CDC guidance for testing. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at ways to bring FDA-approved, asymptomatic testing to our City’s test sites and I’m so pleased to partner with Community Labs to make this a reality,” said Assistant City Manager and Interim Metro Health Director Dr. Colleen Bridger.
Previously residents were required to show symptoms of the disease, which included a fever, dry cough, chills, amongst other symptoms of COVID-19. Starting Monday, individuals with or without symptoms will be able to use the City’s no cost test sites to access nasal PCR tests at no cost to determine if they have contracted COVID-19. Nasal PCR tests have been approved by the FDA for testing of asymptomatic individuals.

“Community Labs was created to make sure every San Antonio resident has access to COVID-19 testing weather they are asymptomatic or not. We are pleased with this new partnership with the City of San Antonio and look forwarded to supporting them in this mission with us.” said Graham Weston, Chairman of the Board of Community Labs.

As a reminder to the public, after being tested for COVID-19, it is important to:

  1. Assume you are positive until you get your test results back.
  2. Stay at home in a room away from other people and use a separate bathroom if you can. Isolate yourself from others, including not going to work until results are received. If you are facing hardships to finding a safe place to isolate from vulnerable people in your household, contact 311.  
  3. Identify close contacts. A close contact is anyone you spent 15 minutes or more with and were within six-feet distance. If you test positive, call people or places that you had close contact with. Let them know that they were exposed and that they should quarantine for 10 days. To identify a close contact, work backwards until two days before you showed symptoms.
  4. Monitor symptoms at least twice a day. If you have a prolonged fever, difficulty breathing or chest pains, call your medical provider or 911 if there is an emergency.
  5. Wash your mask daily and be sure to only touch the ties/ear loops as the inside and outside may be contaminated.

In addition, the City of San Antonio has an online self-screening tool that can be found at www.sanantonio.gov/covid19. This tool does not replace medical care if a person is feeling ill. A healthcare provider should be visited if symptoms worsen or if underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, lung disease, or heart disease is a factor in the person’s medical history.

For more information please visit the COVID-19 portal or https://www.communitylabs.org/ 

FOUR WAYS TO SIGN UP FOR COVID-19 ALERTS

  1. Download the Ready South Texas app, available in the iTunes and Google Play stores
  2. Text COSAGOV to 55000 to receive SMS text message updates
  3. Follow @COSAGOV on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  4. Bookmark covid19.sanantonio.gov

Public service announcements on physical distancing, prevention and testing are available here.