New investments coming in region's life sciences sector

Northern Kentucky’s growing life sciences sector will continue expanding with two major investments announced recently.

A shared research and development lab proposed by several of Covington’s life sciences companies will receive a $15 million boost from the two-year budget passed by the Kentucky General Assembly. The amount is $5 million more than the companies had requested to get the lab off the ground.

READ MORE: Shared biosciences lab would help attract investment and talent to the region

And Ethos Laboratories, which provides testing services for the health care industry, will expand its presence in Newport with a $2.2 million investment. The company says it plans to expand and upgrade the instrumentation and other equipment at its 30,000-square-foot laboratory.

Ethos Laboratories was founded in 2010 and moved to Newport in 2013.  It began as a small firm offering urine tests that doctors could use to ensure their patients were taking their medications as prescribed.

As physicians wanted more accurate methods for assessing pain, Ethos researchers spent years analyzing pain, and in 2017 introduced a test that identified measurable changes in the body’s chemistry that could help doctors find the right pain treatments.

“The research performed at Ethos Laboratories has changed the way pain is measured,” says Campbell County Judge-Executive Steve Pendery.

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country, Ethos researchers developed tests for the viral infection to help schools, nursing homes, and other facilities to keep operating.

Several of the region’s leading life sciences companies are seeking a new, shared laboratory they say will accelerate their growth and the growth of the industry overall. The lab would be a research and development facility shared by at least the three companies lobbying for it: Bexion Pharmaceuticals, Gravity Diagnostics, and CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services.

The facility is called a wet lab, and would have the plumbing, ventilation, equipment, and other infrastructure to enable the handling and experimentation with chemicals, drugs, and other biomaterials.

The lab, proposed to be 10,000 square feet, would be large enough to house startup companies in the biotech arena, and provide a hub for fostering connections and the exchange of ideas among researchers in this space.

Other partners in the proposed lab include Northern Kentucky University, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, and the NKY Collaborative for Economic Engagement.

The lab would be built on land contributed by the city of Covington.

The life sciences sector overall in Northern Kentucky has been growing.

Employment in the biomedical field grew 85 percent from 2014 to 2019, according to an analysis released in January by Northern Kentucky Tri-ED.

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Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is the managing editor of NKY Thrives, an award-winning journalist, and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.