By Nancy Madsen
Randy A. Yerden “really didn’t have a sense” of where his start-up manufacturing company BioSpherix was headed 10 years ago.
A move and 50 employees later, the company, BioSpherix, is positioning itself to see dramatic sales growth and hire another 10 to 15 people this year.
The business, little known in the north country, makes and sells equipment to some of the best biomedical facilities in the world.
“We sell 70 percent globally – Europe, Asia, South and North America,” Mr. Yerden said. “Our clients are universities, medical research hospitals, and government labs, but now we’re moving more into industry and health care, where new medicines are developed.”
BioSpherix creates tools for those who conduct cellular research. The simplest tools are still much like those Mr. Yerden made for himself when he worked in a laboratory to control individual environmental attributes, such as the oxygen content.
“My first job out of college was in a lab. I developed a couple tools for myself to help me in my work,” he said. “Several years later I decided I didn’t want to continue working in a lab, so beginning in 1982 I started building what I thought were custom one-of-a-kind tools for people in the industry. In 2001 I started to realize these were not just oddball things, but rather – everyone would need them.”
Mr. Yerden was born in Redfield, graduated from Sandy Creek schools and moved away for 12 years during and after college.
“I returned to live near my family,” he said. “And it was because of a lack of job opportunity that made me start thinking about starting the company.”
The company’s start coincided with a time when cellular research was becoming a matter of course for all sorts of medical and biological research.
“Cells were becoming more valuable,” Mr. Yerden said. “Most exciting are the new cell therapies, including gene therapy, immunotherapy, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine – there is a lot of positive data that these new cell therapies are going to be very effective.”
Pharmaceutical companies also use cells to find new drugs and avoid those with toxicity. Chemical companies also use cells now to make sure chemicals are safe for public use. But Mr. Yerden and others are most excited about the possibilities cellular research holds for curing diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and sickle cell anemia.
“That’s the thing we are all really excited about,” he said. “If we can help in some small way to play a small role in the cure of Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes, we will all be very proud.”
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