“We can work alongside them and help them be successful. One of our major services is animal testing. The state has a lot of companies and no one wants to set up animal facilities,” Horrigan said. “This allows us to perform these kinds of studies for the state’s life sciences community. Otherwise, they would likely have to outside the region. We can help the small companies with the expertise they can’t hire for themselves.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, Noble Life’s services have been in high demand to assess therapeutic and vaccine assets before they enter the clinic. Over its 15 years in business, the company has been heavily involved in the early stages of vaccine research. When the pandemic hit, Horrigan said the company was “in a good position” to help out with the all-hands-on-deck effort against the novel coronavirus.
“This is Maryland. There were lots of clients in place to help out,” Horrigan said. He declined to name partner companies, but Maryland has been in the thick of vaccine development with nearby companies like AstraZeneca and Novavax.
Todd Parsley, director of infectious disease at Noble Life Sciences, noted that Noble Life Sciences assisted Novavax in a COVID-19 study. Novavax, which is vying for authorization of its vaccine, recently published a study using mouse models in Nature and Noble Sciences was acknowledged in that report.
Parsley noted that Noble Life Sciences has been able to locate some staff members at high safety level biology laboratories, which enabled the company to be in a strong position to work on the COVID-19 response. Last year, the company expanded its access into those high-level sites through a partnership with George Mason University in Virginia. The collaboration granted Noble Life Sciences access to the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases (NCBID) BSL-3 facility located within the university’s Biomedical Research Laboratory. The agreement enables the company to perform federal and non-federally funded BSL-3 animal model projects to support the development of new antiviral and antibacterial agents against infectious and resistant pathogens.
“We have really tried to be forward thinking. Because of that, we’re positioned well to work with these advancements in COVID-19 research. We have the proper channels to conduct animal testing in order to get these things into clinical trials,” Parsley said.
Although there have been vaccines authorized in the United States, Horrigan said there is still need for additional testing on boosters for existing vaccines, as well as next-generation vaccines.
“If it turns out that you have to get vaccines for each year, you’ll want the best vaccines,” Horrigan said.
In addition to animal testing, Noble Life Sciences also produces GLP and non-GLP custom polyclonal antibodies.
Horrigan came to Maryland as a postdoctoral student at the University of Maryland. He liked what he found in the state and has remained ever since. Horrigan said the business aspects in the state are second to none. Having federal institutions like the FDA and NIH are additional strengths for the state’s biotech community. Another strength is the educational training programs within the state’s colleges and universities that provide a strong hiring pool.
“Maryland has a vibrant biotech community. I have a real appreciation for the (life sciences) community in Maryland, there’s a real entrepreneurial desire for the field,” Horrigan said.