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Wolf Visits O’Hara Medical Research Company For ‘Jobs’ Tour, Pushes For More Investment In Education

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA
Governor Tom Wolf and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald Tour Cook MyoSite in O'Hara Township Monday.

Gov. Tom Wolf touted the work of a Pittsburgh cellular technology company during a Monday stop on his "Jobs That Pay" tour, saying it was an example of why investing in education is good for the economy.

Staff members at Cook MyoSite told Wolf that the state’s research regulations can be a burden when it comes to expanding its work. MyoSite is a subsidiary of Cook Group Incorporated, which manufactures medical devices.

Cook MyoSite started its research 15 years ago at the University of Pittsburgh. Last year, it added 64 jobs to the now 130-person company and expanded to a new research facility in O’Hara Township.

The new facility, when completed, is intended to be a manufacturing site for global distribution of its biopharmaceutical products.

Ryan Pruchnic, vice president of operations, said most of the company’s experience is in stress urinary incontinence in women, which means the urinary sphincter muscles are failing either due to age or child birth.

“The bladder is not really good at rebuilding itself, so what we do is we take good muscle cells from other body parts, grow them up here in our facility and then give them back to the physician to inject those muscle cells to help re-build those damaged muscle tissues,” he said.  

The company plans to market its first cell therapy for urinary incontinence by 2019, pending FDA approval. The company manipulates muscle cells that are injected into a patient to help regenerate damaged muscle tissue. Other smaller companies are doing similar work, but managers say the company is leading the world in this type of medicine.

Wolf asked the staff what needed to happen in Harrisburg to continue cutting edge research and work in Pennsylvania.

“Really when you scratch the surface here, it’s about education. It’s about the quality of life,” he said. “Those are the kinds of things that I think we need to be sensitive to so we make the proper investments.”

MyoSite received a $100,000 grant two years ago from the Pennsylvania First Program, which helped build its new facility.

“Local economic incentives are one of several keys to attracting biotechnology business interest and talent in the region, and we appreciate the support of the governor’s office as we continue to expand our operations in Pittsburgh and reach our goal of delivering important medical treatments to patients,” said Ron Jankowski, Cook MyoSite vice president of product development.

Sarah Schneider is WESA's education reporter. From early learning to higher education, Sarah is interested in students and educators working to create more equitable systems. Sarah previously worked with news outlets in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Idaho. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she worked for the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian.