Member Spotlight: Q&A with Pressure BioSciences Inc.

May 03, 2022

Every month, MassBio spotlights a member company and the great work they’re doing to advance the life sciences industry and support the patients we serve. In May, we spoke with Richard Schumacher, President and CEO of Pressure BioSciences Inc., who has served as a director of Pressure BioSciences since the formation of its legacy business, Boston Biomedica, Inc., in 1978.  He has served as CEO of Pressure BioSciences since April 2004 and President since September, 2004.  He previously served as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Boston Biomedica from 1992 to February, 2003 and as President from 1986 to August 1999.

Tell us about your organization, its mission, and current initiatives.

We have 3 core technology platforms, all involving the controlled use very high levels of pressure.  These pressures typically are equal to or greater than 55,000 psi, three and a half times higher than the pressure at the deepest point of the earth’s ocean.   We use pressure to extract proteins and other molecules of interest from biopsy and other samples for drug discovery, disease diagnosis, and the development of treatments.  We use pressure to unfold and refold protein biologics to solve manufacturing and QC problems. We use pressure to manufacture nanoemulsions for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, agrochemical, cosmetics, and food use.  These nanometer-sized emulsions are characterized by long-term physical stability, high water solubility, and remarkable biological activities. 

How do your organization’s activities help patients now and into the future?

From our core science to biomarker discovery, disease diagnosis and drug manufacturing and delivery, we touch almost every aspect of modern biotechnology that can improve the patient’s outcome. We take the path least travelled.  While most research and manufacturing methods are based on heat and chemicals, we apply fundamental thermodynamics in the form of physical pressure to exquisitely drive reactions and structural changes.  We work with academic, industrial, and government researchers worldwide to advance basic science and help scientists and manufacturing engineers to deploy new methods. 

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the life sciences industry today?

Working across diverse disciplines to reinvent the solution finding process is difficult at best, but it is essential to real advancement.  Unfortunately, old traditions and preconceived ideas tend to become barriers to innovation.  For example, almost every researcher and engineer has been taught the effects of temperature and pH, yet how many even understand that fundamental protein structures are also pressure dependent?  Keeping a focus on first principles is also important. 

What’s next for your organization / what are you focused on in the coming year?

We are proud of enabling over 200 laboratories worldwide to discover higher quality biomarkers and streamline sample preparation for biopharmaceutical quality control and other applications. Following the acquisition of the assets and intellectual property of Barofold, Inc. in 2017 we have been offering and expanding our contract research services offerings and licensing deals for protein refolding and disaggregation to several biologics manufacturers and CDMOs.  Nevertheless, of PBI’s three core technology platforms, we think the one that will most likely make the most significant impact in 2022 and beyond is the Ultra Shear Technology™ (UST™).  UST will likely be first used in nutraceutical, cosmetic, and agrochemical applications.  Moreover, drug delivery and food applications will likely follow suit quickly thereafter.  We have obtained extensive IP in this area and feel confident that this revolutionary technology will be securely in our hands for years to come.  We are planning to release UST to the market in the fourth quarter of 2022; we are currently evaluating both equipment lease and contract service options.

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