Hawaii Biotech opens new lab, headquarters at Dole Cannery

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Hawaii Biotech held an open house for its new research and development laboratory and company headquarters at Dole Cannery Tuesday.

The new, 11,000-square-foot space includes chemistry and molecular biology labs.

The company, formerly in Aiea for 33 years, had to change its location when their building was sold. The laboratories are now located in the warehouse opposite the Dole Cannery food court.

Hawaii Biotech is currently developing vaccines for the Zika virus, West Nile Virus, Ebola and other emerging and tropical diseases. The company is also developing drugs to combat bioterrorism threats for the U.S. Department of Defense.

CEO D. Elliot Parks wants to reassure the public that the lab work on is safe since they are not working on live viruses, plus the facilities have their own exclusive air conditioning system.

“We look forward to being able to continue our research here to develop vaccines for various infectious diseases and also we have the chemistry section that works on counter measures to other disease communications,” said Dr. David Clements, director of vaccine research.

“Our old facilities in Aiea had the capabilities, but since we moved out of there, we’ve been limited to what we could do,” he said. “We were able to sustain our research for the most part, but we were in very cramped quarters and didn’t have all the facilities we needed, so now with the new facilities, we’ll be able to continue and do the things we need to do to move our program forward.”

“Here, we were able to design the lab from the ground up,” said Alan Johnson, director of the chemistry and anthrax antitoxin therapeutics program. “It’s a real nice treat.”

“Currently, we’re working on biodefense-related drugs,” he said. “These are to combat toxins that are released by bacteria and released by botulin toxin, as well as anthrax. These were both funded by the government, the National Institutes for Health and the Dept. of Defense.”

Johnson said he hopes everything will be moved in to the new space by the end of the month.

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