MassBiologics: 125 Years of improving public heath


[MUSIC PLAYING] In 1894, it was the
founding of MassBiologics. And it was at the dawn
of our understanding of how you could prevent and
treat certain infections. And the problem of the
time was diphtheria. Every week, the forerunner
of The New England Journal of Medicine would publish
the cases of diphtheria, mostly in children, in what
towns they occurred in, and then they would
publish shortly thereafter that there were this many
fatalities from diphtheria. There’s no drug
companies around. The responsibility for
protecting the citizens from these public health menaces
fell to the commonwealth, to the state. And it’s in that setting that
MassBiologics was founded. And then there was a
major discovery in Europe that if you took a
little bit of serum, that made an animal able
to survive a challenge of diphtheria and the toxin. And you transferred
that to another animal that you could
actually treat them. The impact of having an
antiserum for diphtheria was enormous, because
up until then, you couldn’t do anything
about the complications of the disease. And having a way to
treat it before there were any antibiotics
was a major advance. [MUSIC PLAYING] That sparked this whole era of
using so-called immune serum, largely from horses, to
treat a whole variety of infectious diseases–
botulism, tetanus, and diphtheria. Shortly after it
was made available, you could see gradually
the dramatic reduction in both the incidence
of cases as well as the fatalities from them. [MUSIC PLAYING] Fast forward to the ’40s,
and here MassBiologics does what it does best, and that
is addressing the public health need of the time. There was a huge need
for human serum albumin in the ’40s,
largely to protect– or to treat soldiers who would
be wounded on the battlefield. And through the
work of Cohn, who developed this Cohn
fractionation that was all prototyped here at MassBiologics
in the late ’30s and ’40s, MassBiologics became a major
source of human proteins both to treat infectious
diseases as well as replacement therapy for wounded
soldiers on the battlefield. At the same time, we were
still making vaccines. And we recently
received a wonderful thank you note from a gentleman
whose father’s life was saved from tetanus. My father, he grew
up in Shrewsbury. He was skating on Jordan Pond. He was 16 years old, and
catching a blade on his foot. And they took him to the doctor. They sewed him up. And the– it got infected,
and that’s how he got sick. He would have probably
died if he had not had a tetanus shot, because
he was one of the first people to get that. Somebody drove the
serum in from Boston. He was dying. And they gave him the serum. And he had a high, high fever. And within a couple of days,
he regained his health, and within a week, he
was out of the hospital. And if it wasn’t for
the tetanus serum, my father probably would not
have survived that accident. Thank you very much. I appreciate that from
the bottom of my heart, and from my dad’s as well. [MUSIC PLAYING] It bursts with pride,
quite honestly. You know? I mean, everybody, I
think, in the world seeks to make a difference. As needs changed,
we had a mechanism within the public sector
to respond to those changes and respond to those challenges. The biologic
laboratories was a way of translating the
science to public health. How do you take current
science and use it in a way that translates
into a benefit? [MUSIC PLAYING] The secret to MassBiologics’
sustainability is that it needs to stay focused
on the problems of the day and either adapt to or innovate
the technology that supports addressing those problems. [MUSIC PLAYING] In India, there are
approximately 10,000 deaths every year from rabies. We invented a
monoclonal antibody. We then transferred
that technology to an Indian organization,
The Serum Institute of India, and they then brought
it forward commercially. And we are about to
see a dawning there of a dramatic reduction
in the number of deaths. [MUSIC PLAYING] We’ve been able to build
an organization that can address problems that
doesn’t first ask the question, will this be profitable? We ask the question, where can
we make the biggest impact? Where’s the most
important medical need? [MUSIC PLAYING] MassBiologics has
taken advantage of the great wealth of
scientific expertise at our medical school. And in those areas where
we’ve innovated, especially in the area of RNA
and oligonucleotides as well as on gene
therapeutics, we’ve adapted and innovated
in those areas to be able to support
those activities and bring medicines forward
that can actually do that. RNA-based therapeutics,
oligonucleotide-based therapeutics is going
to be transformative for human medicine. Just think about it, yeah? We are all used to concept
of small molecule drugs which need to be dosed daily. Right now, we are talking
about using the molecules which you can administer once a year
or maybe every six months. So to some degree, we are
talking about transformation of the human
medicine from pumping pulls towards a vaccination. The promise of gene
therapy to finally have a treatment for genetic
diseases has become a reality. The South Coast facility
has a dedicated set of instruments and
manufacturing suites that are completely designed for
the manufacture of human gene therapy vectors. It’s a tremendous time for us
to be in this field, imaging therapy, and to be able to bring
these treatments to patients, to families who have these
severe illnesses that were previously incurable. MassBiologics offers
a unique opportunity. I am not actually aware of
any other non-for-profit GMP manufacturing capabilities
within academic institutions that enable translation
of breakthrough discoveries towards patients. When you are going towards
clinical translations in patients, things need
to be done perfectly. And I think MassBiologics
is fantastic. [MUSIC PLAYING] Nothing makes an
organization like this part of the medical school more
proud than having contributed to the well-being of the
public health and individuals. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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