BioSurplus Blog & News

September 9, 2014

BioSurplus To Auction Lab Equipment from Lexicon Pharmaceuticals

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 9, 2014—BioSurplus, America’s leader in used lab equipment, announced today that it will be holding an auction of lab equipment from Lexicon Pharmaceuticals’ drug discovery, validation and pre-clinical research facility in The Woodlands, TX. The online auction will run from October 2 – 9, 2014.

Items can be viewed on site at 8800 Technology Forest Place, The Woodlands, TX 77381-1160 on September 25 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m, and on September 26 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

As Lexicon Pharmaceuticals has refocused on clinical programs, approximately 1000 lots of research and development equipment will be available for auction. Available lots include late-model analytical balances, refrigerated centrifuges, research microscopes, spectrophotometers, vivarium equipment, consumables and other biotech basics.  Included among the lots are high-end items including:

- Leica TCS SP5 Confocal Microscope

- BD FACSCanto Flow Cytometer

- GE Amersham AKTA FPLC Systems

- Olympus / Nikon / Zeiss inverted and upright microscopes

- Small animal behavioral testing equipment from Coulbourn, Accuscan, Med Associates

- Analytical chemistry equipment – HPLCs and Mass Specs from Thermo, Applied Biosystems, Waters

 

Please visit http://auctions.biosurplus.com to view the online catalog.

For more information on the auction, please call 866-236-4496, x222, or email auctionsupport@biosurplus.com.

August 19, 2014

BioSurplus at the WBBA Purchasing Partner Luncheon

BioSurplus maintains cooperative partnerships with many biotech associations across the United States. Recently, our VP of National Business Development, Dawn Hocevar, gave a presentation at the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association (WBBA) Purchasing Partner Luncheon outlining the continued success BioSurplus has had in providing comprehensive purchasing and liquidation solutions for our customers. Check out the video below to learn more!

For more information on WBBA, visit their site here.

June 28, 2014

Women In Bio: Interview with BioSurplus’ Dawn Hocevar

Dawn Hocevar, VP National Business Development, BioSurplus.

Dawn Hocevar, VP National Business Development, BioSurplus.

Last November, BioSurplus’ VP of business development, Dawn Hocevar was interviewed by Ed Miseta, chief editor of Outsourced Pharma.  The piece was part of a series of interviews with women executives in the biotech and pharma industries sponsored by the organization Women In Bio (WIB).

Hocevar, in addition to her role at BioSurplus is also currently serving as WIB’s national chair of programs and development, where she works with local chapters to execute programs that promote careers, leadership and entrepreneurship for women in the life sciences.

Over her 20-plus year career, Dawn Hocevar has developed a deep knowledge of laboratory equipment and the needs of researchers and facilities managers in the industry.  She got her start as a bench scientist, and went on to work for Thermo Fisher in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was a corporate account manager and senior sales representative focusing on area biotechs and universities.

She’s been at BioSurplus for six years and has a wealth of information to share with current and future clients when it comes to buying, selling and maintaining valuable research laboratory equipment.  In the Outsourced Pharma interview, she touches on some of the most important topics and best practices.

What Should Biotech Companies Look For In A Used-Equipment Supplier?

Buying used lab equipment can be a challenge.  There are numerous small businesses in the market that sell equipment from their garage, warehouse or on eBay.  It’s hard to tell if they’re reputable or will sell you equipment that’s in working order.

Kim Guadagno, Lt. Gov. of New Jersey, BioSurplus director of national business development Dawn Hocevar, and NJBIO president Debbie Hart, at BIO Chicago.

Kim Guadagno, Lt. Gov. of New Jersey, BioSurplus director of national business development Dawn Hocevar, and NJBIO president Debbie Hart, at BIO Chicago.

In the interview, Hocevar provides detailed information on what to look for in a used-equipment supplier.  Among her recommendations are:

  • Do some research:  find out how long the re-seller has been in business, and look up their Better Business Bureau rating
  • Make sure the company has a return policy and offers a warranty; also find out where the equipment came from—was it in a working lab, or had the equipment been in storage for many years?
  • Keep in mind that the purchase price might not be the full cost of the equipment you buy:  Will professional installation be necessary?   Will you need to purchase a software license?

Click here to learn more about the advantages of buying used lab equipment.

 

What Should We Do With Our Surplus Lab Equipment?  Best Practices.

Hocevar states that researchers tend to hang on to equipment they’re not using, in case they need it later.  Unfortunately, the longer that equipment gathers dust in a warehouse or storeroom, the less it’s worth to another user.  She recommends that companies establish a plan to regularly identify unused equipment and dispose of it quickly, while the technology is still current.

As a rule of thumb, companies should sell surplus equipment within ten years of the manufacture date.  It’s also important to keep service records on hand.  Customers like to know that the equipment they’re purchasing has been kept in good shape by its previous owner; equipment with this documentation will command a higher price.

Women In Bio

Stacy Silver, VP Marketing and Membership, BioFlorida; Jill Diodato, Program Manager, Banner Center for Life Science, and Dawn Hocevar, Director, National Business Development, BioSurplus. At BioFlorida 2012.

Stacy Silver, VP Marketing and Membership, BioFlorida; Jill Diodato, Program Manager, Banner Center for Life Science, and Dawn Hocevar, Director, National Business Development, BioSurplus. At BioFlorida 2012.

Women In Bio was founded in 2002 by Robbie Melton in the Washington, D.C. area. Melton wanted to create a forum where women in the local life sciences industry could come together and celebrate each other’s successes.  The group’s footprint later expanded nationwide, and now WIB counts 11 chapters and more than 1000 members.

In the interview, Hocevar talks about the importance of WIB in the professional development of women in biotech.  Its programs and events offer advice to women in all stages of their careers, from students to C-level executives.  She says that one of the things she loves the most about WIB is that, “members and the women who come to the events genuinely want to connect, share their stories, and help young women explore a career in biotech.”

Although much has changed since Hocevar began her career, women are still grossly underrepresented in corporate boardrooms.  In order to break through the glass ceiling, women must learn to assert themselves in the workplace; she also believes in the power of mentorship—WIB provides women with many opportunities to seek out mentors that can help them move up the corporate ladder.

Click here to learn more about Women In Bio and their many programs and events.

Click here to read the full interview with Dawn Hocevar on the Contract Pharma website.

June 19, 2014

Heading To BIO 2014? Favorite Places To Visit In San Diego

The Botanical Building at Balboa Park.

The Botanical Building at Balboa Park.

Are you heading to San Diego for BIO 2014 next week?  If so, do you know how you’re going to spend your free time while you’re here?

With so much to do during the conference itself, that free time just might be limited.  But if you do have a chance to get away, San Diego offers some great places for you to spend it.  And it’s not all about the beach and surfing….

Jennifer Landress, Senior VP and COO of BIOCOM, recently posted an excellent list of local attractions on the BIOtechNOW blog.  BioSurplus is a BIOCOM member and a San Diego-based company; we read the list and decided join in.

Here we’d like to offer some of our own observations on a few of the places that make San Diego unique—and that attract millions of visitors from around the world.   I’m a San Diego native myself, and would love to share some of my favorite places in the city.

Here goes (and in no particular order):

Balboa Park

I grew up visiting Balboa Park and its many museums—in fact it’s probably my favorite place in San Diego.

Today the largest urban cultural park in the country, Balboa Park’s original 1400 acres were set aside by civic leaders in 1868.  The first steps toward developing the land were taken in 1892, when the famous landscape architect Kate Sessions offered to plant 100 trees a year in exchange for space within the park to house her own commercial nursery.

Balboa Park has played host to two world’s fairs:  the 1915-16 Panama California Exposition, and the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition.  The buildings from the expositions still stand in the park, and were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

In addition to its 15 museums, the park is also home to many beautiful gardens, picnic areas, and the renowned Old Globe Theater.  And if you happen to bring your kids along, don’t forget to check out the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, with its many hands-on exhibits demonstrating the wonders of the natural world.

Click here for information on the science center and IMAX theater.

Grounds are open 24 hours a day; visitor center:  9:30 AM to 4:30 PM; museum hours vary.  Click here for museum information.

1549 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101

T:  619-239-0512

www.balboapark.org

 

San Diego Zoo

Koalas at the San Diego Zoo.  (photo courtesy San Diego Zoo.)

Koalas at the San Diego Zoo. (Photo courtesy San Diego Zoo.)

The San Diego Zoo is home to over 3,700 animals representing more than 650 species, as well as a collection of more than 700,000 exotic plants.

Established in 1916 with animals that had been on display during the Panama California Exposition, the original zoo consisted of a line of cages along Park Boulevard; its first lion cubs, Faith, Hope and Charity, were born in 1917, when a membership cost a whopping five dollars.

Memberships today are a bit more expensive, but still an incredible value.  I have one myself, and visit a few times a month.  One of my favorite attractions is the new Koalafornia Adventure, which opened last year.

The San Diego zoo is open every day from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

For information on zoo tickets please click here.

Click here to visit the San Diego Zoo website.

2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park

T:  619-231-1515

 

Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel del Coronada, circa 1900.  Photo by William Henry Jackson.

Hotel del Coronada, circa 1900. Photo by William Henry Jackson.

When it opened in 1888, the Hotel del Coronado was the largest resort hotel in the world.  It’s now the second-largest wooden structure in the country, and has hosted a who’s who of celebrities, including Charlie Chaplin, Betty Davis, Kirk Douglas and many more; in fact, every U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson has visited the Del.

The hotel has also served as a location for many Hollywood movies—my favorite is Some Like It Hot, the 1959 classic starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

The architecture alone is worth a trip over the Coronado Bridge, and there are numerous restaurants and bars where you can eat or have a drink while you’re there.

For more information please click on the Hotel Del’s website here, or call 619-435-6611.

1500 Orange Ave., Coronado, CA 92118

 

San Diego Harbor Cruise

I’ve taken the San Diego harbor cruise many times over the years, and it’s still one of my favorite things to do here.  It’s the perfect way to get a feel for San Diego and its harbor, from Shelter Island to the Naval Submarine Base to Coronado.

The Coronado Bridge.

The Coronado Bridge.

One of the more interesting facts about the harbor is that in 1835, Richard Henry Dana spent a season preparing animal hides for shipment to Boston on the beach where the sub base is currently located.  He tells the story of his time here, along with the rest of his two-year sea voyage in his famous book Two Years Before The Mast.

Hornblower cruises offers six daily departures from their ticket booth on Harbor Drive near the Star of India (very close to the San Diego Convention Center).  Sunset happy-hour cruises are also available on Fridays and Saturdays.

970 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101

T:  1-888-467-6256

Click here for more information on Hornblower’s website.

 

UCSD – Our Biotech Hub.  Scripps Aquarium, Salk Institute And More

The UCSD Geisel Library.

The UCSD Geisel Library.

La Jolla is the cradle of the biotech hub here in San Diego, with the University of California, San Diego at its center.  The university was established in 1960 and, along with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, which was founded in 1903, has been a catalyst for research, innovation and the creation of new biotech companies.

There are all kinds of interesting places to visit and things to do on and around the campus.  If you’re an architecture fan, you won’t want to miss the Salk Institute; the UCSD Geisel library—named for Theodore Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss—is also instantly recognizable.

UCSD’s Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute is a must-see if you’re in the area, and La Jolla Shores beach next door is one of the best in the city.

 

Birch Aquarium

2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037

Open 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily

T:  858-534-3474

http://aquarium.ucsd.edu/

 

Salk Institute For Biological Studies

10010 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, CA 92037

T:  858-453-4100

http://www.salk.edu/

 

UCSD Geisel Library

9500 Gilman Dr., San Diego, CA 92093

T:  858-534-3336

http://libraries.ucsd.edu/

June 16, 2014

Roche Announces Acquisition Of Sequencing Technology Firm Genia

Stefan Roever, CEO, Genia.

Stefan Roever, CEO, Genia Technologies.

Basel, Switzerland-based pharma giant Roche announced on June 2 that it has acquired Genia Technologies of Mountain View, CA, a next-gen sequencing technology company whose nanopore-based platform allows for rapid DNA sequencing using integrated circuits.

BioSurplus’ Antonio Johnson previously wrote about Genia’s technology on the BioSurplus blog.  Take a moment to read the article here.

The $125 million acquisition, with a potential further payout of $225 million to investors upon completion of certain milestones, is part of Roche’s plan to develop its own sequencing platform on which it can base its diagnostic products.  The company bought 454 Life Sciences, an early competitor in the sequencing technology race, in 2007, and also announced a partnership with Pacific Biosciences, another next-gen sequencing company, in September of last year.

The deal follows Roche’s failed bid for San Diego-based Illumina in 2012.  Illumina, currently the leader in DNA sequencing technology with over 70% of the global sequencer market, recently broke through the $1000 price barrier for whole-genome sequencing with their new HiSeqX 10 system.

Read about the $1000 genome and Illumina on the BioSurplus blog here.

According to an article this week on Xconomy.com by Bernadette Tansey, the issue is that Illumina’s $1000 price point is only obtainable if an organization purchases a complete ten-machine bank from the company for $10 million.   In other words, costs are still a major barrier to wide-scale adoption of personalized medicine.

Genia’s technology can potentially lower these costs by eliminating the need to replicate DNA, cut it up into fragments and then put it back together using expensive, heavy-duty computing power.

Instead of detecting nucleotide bases using light, Genia’s platform utilizes bioengineered nanopores, each of which can sequence an entire DNA string.  In the Xconomy article, Tansey states that, “the system can be scaled up to include many thousands of those nanopores, which could enable the experimental system to sequence large amounts of DNA quickly.”

Genia will remain a standalone company under the umbrella of the Roche Sequencing Unit, which is led by Dan Zabrowski and headquartered in Pleasanton, CA.  Genia’s co-founder and CEO Stefan Roever will continue to run the company with his present management team.

In order to ramp up development of the Genia platform, Roche plans to double or triple the company’s 35-person staff.

Read the press release from Roche here.

June 13, 2014

Venter Institute Awarded Grant For Infectious Disease Genome Center

Karen Nelson, PhD, President, JCVI. (photo courtesy J. Craig Venter Institute.)

Karen Nelson, PhD, President, JCVI. (photo courtesy J. Craig Venter Institute.)

The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) announced on Thursday, June 5, that it has been awarded a grant of approximately $25 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NAID).

The funding, to be provided over a five-year period, will enable the establishment and operation of a Genome Center for Infectious Diseases (GCID).  The center’s primary goal will be to further the scientific understanding of infectious diseases by focusing on the pathogens that cause them.  Research results will be made available to the greater scientific community.

Infectious diseases continue to be a worldwide scourge and are one of the leading causes of death, especially among children in Southeast Asia and Africa.  Malaria, for example, kills over a million people in Africa every year, and resistance to standard medications is at a crisis level.  One of the new center’s focus areas will be to study pathogen drug resistance and explore new ways to fight infections by drug-resistant organisms.

The research team, to be led by JCVI co-principal investigators Karen Nelson, PhD, and William Nierman, PhD, will utilize next-generation DNA sequencing technology, along with cutting-edge bioinformatics and computer technologies, to meet the GCID’s goals.  In addition to the group at the Venter Institute, 50 researchers from 40 institutions around the world will participate.

Click here to read about how UCSF researchers have used next-gen sequencing to make an actionable diagnosis on a patient.

The program’s principal objective is to utilize new technologies to study pathogen biology, drug resistance, virulence, host microbiome biological interactions, and immune evasion.  Three main research projects will be created, focusing on viruses, bacteria and parasites.

The J. Craig Venter Institute, which has facilities here in San Diego as well as Rockville Maryland, was created in 2006 through the merger of several affiliated research organizations.  Its founder, J. Craig Venter, is a DNA sequencing pioneer, having launched Celera Genomics in 1998 with the goal of sequencing the first full human genome within a period of three years.

Read more about J. Craig Venter and the recently announced $1000 genome breakthrough on the BioSurplus blog here.

Click here to read the full JCVI press release.

June 9, 2014

UCSF Researchers Use Next-Gen Sequencing For Rapid Diagnosis

Dr. Joseph DeRisi, UCSF.

Dr. Joseph DeRisi, UCSF.

For the first time, researchers have used next-gen DNA sequencing to make an actionable diagnosis on a patient.  A report of the case was published in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine this Wednesday, June 4.

14-year old Joshua Osborne, of Madison Wisconsin, had been placed in a medically induced coma last July due to severe swelling in his brain.  When testing for multiple diseases turned up nothing, his doctor, James Gern, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, reached out to two of his fellow research collaborators:  Dr. Joseph DeRisi, and his colleague, pathologist Dr. Charles Chiu.  Both researchers are based at the University of California, San Francisco.

DeRisi, a biochemist by training, first used a microarray for DNA sequencing in 2003 to identify the cause of the SARS virus.  He and his team now employ a process called unbiased next-generation sequencing, in which they extract all DNA from a patient’s blood, spinal fluid or stool sample and then separate the fragments belonging to pathogens.

Dr. Chiu and his team have developed computer software that matches these fragments with DNA sequences available in online databases.  Drs. DeRisi and Chiu combined the new sequencing method and software to identify the elusive cause of Joshua’s encephalitis:  the bacteria Leptospira, which can be effectively treated with penicillin.

The entire process of sequencing, analysis, and diagnosis took 48 hours; Joshua was given high doses of penicillin and the swelling in his brain began to go down immediately after receiving treatment.  He was on his feet two weeks later.

Next-gen sequencing shows great promise for diagnosing a wide variety of conditions.  According to an overview of the case published in the New York Times, 60% of the time encephalitis isn’t even diagnosed.

There are still many hurdles to overcome, however.  The human body is teeming with microbes, and even though many of them may turn up during sequencing, their sheer numbers can make it difficult to tell which one of them is causing the problem.

Take a moment to read the full article in the New York Times here.

Click here to read the article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

June 6, 2014

FDA Lifts Hold On Trial Of Halozyme Pancreatic Cancer Drug

Halozyme Logo.San Diego-based Halozyme Therapeutics announced on Wednesday that the FDA has lifted a hold on a clinical trial of its pancreatic cancer drug, PEGPH20.

The hold on patient enrollment and dosing was put in place this April when the company, based on recommendations from an independent data monitoring committee, decided to evaluate a possible increase in the rate of thromboembolism, or blood clots, in patients treated with PEGPH20.

After reviewing data, the committee recommended last month that the trial (Study 202) be resumed under revised protocols.  Patients considered to be at a high risk of thromboembolic events will be excluded from the study, and others will be given low molecular-weight heparin to help prevent blood clots.

PEGPH20 was developed through research conducted by Dr. Gregory Frost while he was at the University of California, San Francisco.  While studying the extracellular matrix he discovered that tumors use hyaluronan to create a protective layer around them.  Based on his findings, he went on to develop the enzyme PEGPH20, which breaks down the hyaluronan matrix.

In an article in Medscape Medical News in 2013, Dr. Frost stated:

“Nobody else is taking this approach to the cancer.  When we first started, people thought we were crazy, thought we would make the tumor spread and explode. Now we are somewhere between people thinking this is crazy and thinking this is the obvious solution.” (Click here to read the article.)

He went on to say that pancreatic cancers with a high level of hyaluronan had a poorer prognosis than those that did not.  When PEGPH20 is given intravenously, the hyaluronan is broken down and subsequently “liberates fluid from the tumor, pressure normalizes, reperfusion occurs, and tumor metabolism changes.”

PEGPH20 is used in combination with gemcitabine, a drug that has proven to be effective in pancreatic cancer.  Gemcitabine is also used in combination with Celgene’s pancreatic cancer drug Abraxane, which I wrote about in December of last year.  Click here to read the Celgene article on the BioSurplus blog.

According to Halozyme CEO, Dr. Helen Torley:

“We are committed to the development of PEGPH20 in pancreatic cancer. Halozyme worked diligently with the FDA and the DMC to develop the plan to allow the study to restart.  We are pleased to be able to continue enrolling patients in this clinical program as there remains a significant need for new treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients.”

Click here to read the Halozyme press release.

May 30, 2014

2014 Kavli Science Prize Winners Announced

2014 Kavli Prize winner in neuroscience Brenda Milner, speaking at McGill University in 2009.

2014 Kavli Prize winner in neuroscience Brenda Milner, speaking at McGill University in 2009.

The winners of this year’s Kavli Prizes were officially announced yesterday, Thursday, May 29.  Nine scientists from around the world will share in each of three $1 million prizes, awarded in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.

The biennial Kavli Prizes were established in 2005 as a partnership between the Kavli Foundation, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research; the first prizes were awarded in 2008.

Among the three winners of this year’s neuroscience award was the pioneering neuropsychologist Brenda Milner, whose work with Henry Molaison, or Patient H.M., led to major discoveries in the areas of memory and cognition.

You can read more about her work and Patient H.M.’s legacy in this post on the BioSurplus blog.

Fred Kavli And The Kavli Foundation

Fred Kavli was born in Norway in 1927 and grew up on a small farm in the town of Eresfjord.  He went on to earn a degree in applied physics from the Norwegian Institute of Technology in 1955; inspired by time his father had spent living in the United States, Kavli himself set out for the U.S. soon after graduation, and within a few years of his arrival started a company, Kavlico, that developed sophisticated sensor technology.

Kavli shepherded the company through tremendous growth over the years: its sensors have been used in everything from car engines to the space shuttle and Poseidon missiles.  He sold Kavlico, now owned by French conglomerate Schneider Electric, in 2000 to C-Mac Industries for $345 million.

Fred Kavli, founder of the Kavli Prize.

Fred Kavli, founder of the Kavli Prize.

After selling his company, Kavli set out to find the most efficient way to establish a philanthropic foundation.  His goal was to use his wealth to support scientific research and he wanted to make sure that his resources would yield the maximum benefits.

When he spoke with the leaders of several universities, Kavli found out that what they most needed was seed money to back cutting-edge research that might not otherwise receive funding due to its experimental nature and the risk of failure.  To meet these needs, he created the Kavli Foundation, which in turn established 17 Kavli Institutes with endowments of $7.5 million each.

The universities where the institutes are located, ranging from the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University in Beijing to the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind here at UC San Diego, accept the money with an agreement to seek matching funding. The endowments currently provide $400,000 yearly for research, and the foundation plans to increase its contribution to $10 million for each institute, which, with matching funds, will provide $1 million per year in funding.

Fred Kavli died at his home in Santa Barbara, CA last year at the age of 86.

2014 Award Winners

This year’s winners come from around the globe—from Russia to Canada, to Germany and France—and have done work on topics as varied as the theory of cosmic inflation and nano-optics.

The winners in the field of astrophysics were MIT’s Alan Guth, Stanford’s Andrei Linde and Alexei Starobinsky of the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics at the Russian Academy of Sciences.  Each of the three scientists has made significant contributions to the theory of cosmic inflation, which asserts that the universe expanded exponentially for a short time at a speed faster than light at the beginning of the Big Bang.

Winning the nanoscience prize were Thomas W. Ebbesen of France’s Louis Pasteur University, Stefan W. Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany, and Imperial College London’s John B. Pendry.

The three researchers have done major work in the development of nano-optics, which use light to view objects that are smaller than the wavelength of visible light.  It was previously held that only details larger than 200 nanometers could be imaged using existing technology.

Finally, the neuroscience award went to John O’Keefe of University College London, Marcus Raichle of the Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, MI, and, as I mentioned above, Brenda Milner—who at 95 years old is still going strong—of Montreal’s McGill University.  All three have made seminal contributions to the study of the regions of the brain involved in memory.

The awards will be presented in Oslo, Norway on September 9.

 

 

May 27, 2014

Scientist Goes 12 Years Without A Shower

David Whitlock, AOBiome.

David Whitlock, AOBiome. (Photo credit:  AOBiome)

Yep, twelve years without taking a single shower.  Incredible.  All in the name of science, of course.  And the amazing thing is that evidently you’ll never know it if you meet him.

The scientist in question is David Whitlock (pictured at left), an MIT-trained chemical engineer and the inventor of AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist.  AO+ is a “living bacterial skin tonic” that contains billions of Nitrosomonas Eutropha bacteria—a bacteria we normally wash away with soap and shampoo.

I recently came across an article in the New York Times by the writer Julia Scott.  In this entertaining piece Scott describes her experience as a test subject in a study run by AOBiome, the Cambridge, MA-based biotech startup that produces AO+.

AO Biome posits that the bacteria contained in its product “acts as a built-in cleanser, deodorant, anti-inflammatory, and immune booster by feeding on the ammonia in our sweat and converting it into nitrite and nitric oxide.”

The company is betting that by returning bacteria to our skin instead of killing it off with anti-bacterials, new diagnostics and treatments for disease can be developed.  The FDA approval process is a long and expensive one, however; in the meantime AOBiome is going the cosmetic route and hopes to make consumers less reliant on soaps, deodorants and moisturizers.  The plan is to use proceeds from A0+ sales to fund the drug discovery process.

Company CEO Spiros Jamas, another MIT graduate with a doctorate in biotechnology, also uses AO+:  he now soaps up only twice a week.  Company chair Jamie Heywood approaches Whitlock’s zeal—he only uses soap once or twice a month, and shampoos a whopping three times a year.

According to Julia Scott:

“I met these men. I got close enough to shake their hands, engage in casual conversation and note that they in no way conveyed a sense of being “unclean” in either the visual or olfactory sense.”

I’m not sure if I’m ready to try this myself, but it’s definitely an interesting concept.  Take a moment to read the entire article in the New York Times here.  I think you’ll enjoy it.