SERVING UP SANITIZER

Houston distillery now creating hand sanitizer to alleviate shortages

Gulf Coast Distillers is located in the East End. Courtesy of Gulf Coast Distillery

A Houston company is doing its part to help alleviate shortages of hand sanitizer that have been triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gulf Coast Distillers has repurposed one of its production and bottling lines to produce the alcohol-based cleaning product.

C4U Hand Sanitizer could make its way into local retailers as early as later this week, the company announced. Exact locations and pricing will be announced once the product is ready for stores.

"As the coronavirus concerns have grown over the past week, and the supply of important health items has become sparse, we have decided to shift a significant part of our production resources to help our community in this time of need," Gulf Coast Distillers' president & CEO Carlos de Aldecoa said a statement.

For those unfamiliar, Gulf Coast operates a large distillery in Houston's East End. Some of its consumer brands include Giant Texas bourbon and BJ Hooker's vodka.

The company does not expect that switching one line over to hand sanitizer will significantly diminish the availability of those other products.

Producing hand sanitizer in response to recent shortages puts Gulf Coast in prestigious company. Luxury goods maker LVMH, a French firm that owns prestigious brands such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co., recently announced that it would also begin producing the product. Other distilleries across America have also begun to produce hand sanitizer to alleviate shortages.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston's Nobel Prize winner, Jim Allison, is the star of Breakthrough, which premieres on Independent Lens at 9 pm Monday, April 27, on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS Video App. Photo via SXSW.com

Not all heroes wear capes. In fact, our current coronavirus heroes are donning face masks as they save lives. One local health care hero has a different disease as his enemy, and you'll soon be able to stream his story.

Dr. James "Jim" Allison won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work in battling cancer by treating the immune system — rather than the tumor. Allison, who is the chair of Immunology and executive director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center, has quietly and often, singularly, waged war with cancer utilizing this unique approach.

The soft-spoken trailblazer is the subject of an award-winning documentary, Jim Allison: Breakthrough, which will air on PBS and its streaming channels on Monday, April 27 at 9 pm (check local listings for channel information). Lauded as "the most cheering film of the year" by the Washington Post, the film follows Allison's personal journey to defeat cancer, inspired and driven by the disease killed his mother.

Breakthrough is narrated by Woody Harrelson and features music by Willie Nelson, adding a distinct hint of Texana. (The film was a star at 2019's South by Southwest film festival.) The documentary charts Alice, Texas native as he enrolls at the University of Texas, Austin and ultimately, cultivates an interest in T cells and the immune system — and begins to frequent Austin's legendary music scene. Fascinated by the immune system's power to protect the body from disease, Allison's research soon focuses on how it can be used to treat cancer.

Viewers will find Allison charming, humble, and entertaining: the venerable doctor is also an accomplished blues harmonica player. Director Bill Haney weaves Allison's personal story with the medical case of Sharon Belvin, a patient diagnosed with melanoma in 2004 who soon enrolled in Allison's clinical trials. Belvin has since been entirely cancer-free, according to press materials.

"We are facing a global health challenge that knows no boundaries or race or religion, and we are all relying on gifted and passionate scientists and healthcare workers to contain and ultimately beat this thing," said Haney, in a statement. "Jim Allison and the unrelenting scientists like him are my heroes – and I'll bet they become yours!"

Jim Allison: Breakthrough premieres on Independent Lens at 9 pm Monday, April 27, on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS Video App.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.