Local Company Forges New Partnership with ETSU Researchers
After setting up large plasma collection centers around the Tri-Cities area for a commercial company, Kevin King began to see a void in plasma and blood bank services. King started investigating the possibility of a specialized plasma collection center focused on diagnostic and research industry needs.
With his partner, Dr. Bruce Boggs, King started Physicians Plasma Alliance (PPA) in 2009 to offer specialty services related to collecting quality biological products from patients with different diseases. Ryan King, Kevins brother joined the company in 2011 and played a key role in expanding PPA to the current unique business model. PPA recruits patients with specific diseases both locally and around the United States. Out-of-area patients are flown in to the Physicians Plasma Alliance offices in Grey, TN where their plasma and whole blood is collected.
Diseased blood samples are collected in a state-of-the-art center that more resembles a series of small living rooms than a medical environment. Samples are then processed and stored by an in-house lab team and stored onsite in cryogenic storage.
The specialized model of PPA has led to mutually-beneficial partnership with ETSU. One aspect of biological science that some people may not fully understand is the need for a control sample. A control sample acts as a healthy comparison against diseased samples when doing any experiment. Healthy control blood is a valuable commodity in the research environment, and often times technicians are tasked with collecting samples from student or staff volunteers.
PPA has recently stepped in to fill the need for healthy control blood samples delivered as needed to ETSU researchers, thus eliminating the need to constantly track down new volunteers across the medical campus. Dr. Zhi Qiang Yao, and Dr. Mohamed Elgazzer, both Professors in the Quillen College of Medicine and members of the Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunity are all regularly utilizing PPA services for their ongoing research projects.
Plans for future projects include an online ordering system to better streamline the ordering process for ETSU researchers. Researchers and PPA alike are also eager to expand the catalog of biological sample items available to include a collection of diseased blood and plasma types as well as tissue samples for use in future infectious disease research.