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8 posts from November 2012

November 26, 2012

Push to find 'Holy Grail' treatment marks historic milestone

A quest for the medical Holy Grail of regenerating a patient's heart tissue to help millions of sufferers and potentially make billions of dollars recently hit a historic milestone, when a Mayo Clinic-developed treatment was given the green light to move into the final stages of testing.

Belgium-based Cardio3 BioSciences licensed Mayo Clinic's research in this area in 2007. That research was led by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar.

6a00d83451cc8269e20133f247d05f970b-800wiThe therapy involves taking stem cells from a patient's  bone marrow and through a proprietary process called Cardiopoiesis, re-programs those cells to become heart cells. The cells are then injected back into the patient's heart to repair damaged tissue.

Cardio3 describes the ongoing ties to Mayo Clinic on its web site, "The company's current relationship with Mayo Clinic is essentially based on the technology license agreement, through which the company acquired at arms’ length rights to the majority of its current intellectual property portfolio and which has created a long-term research relationship with Mayo Clinic."

Cardio3 is a  privately owned company that has raised about $57.6 million in financing since it launched. The breakdown of its investors on its website shows Mayo Clinic controls 25 percent of the company's capitalization. In 2011, Cardio3 deepened the already close relationship by establishing its U.S. headquarters in Rochester on the third floor of the Minnesota Biobusiness Center.

It estimated that about 23 million people worldwide are afflicted with congestive heart failure and 2 million new cases are diagnosed each year worldwide. It is a disorder on the increase in the U.S., in particular. Analysts have estimated a successful treatment for congestive heart failure could bring in about $1 billion a year for whatever company that brings it to market.

Many biotechnology firms have been working on their own approaches, but it appears Cardio3 is ahead of others pursuing treatments involving stem cells.

Cardio3 and Mayo Clinic have marked many positive results during Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, while working on this treatment now called C3BS-CQR-1 over the years. Now Cardio3 has been given the green light to follow up its Phase II trial that was conducted between 2009 and 2010 in Belgium, Serbia and Switzerland.

"Heart failure remains a significant unmet clinical need associated with high morbidity, mortality and escalating healthcare costs. We believe C3BS-CQR-1 has a potential to become an alternative to heart transplantation, which is the only curative treatment for heart failure available today," stated Dr Christian Homsy, CEO of Cardio3 BioSciences, in the company's recent announcement. "Our Phase III trial is the first to begin anywhere in the world for a regenerative therapy for this indication. We look forward to confirming the promising results we have already seen in our Phase II study."

The Phase III trial will take place in Belgium. The trial will recruit a minimum of 240 patients with chronic advanced symptomatic heart failure.

November 23, 2012

Hardy's Bar-B-Que won't change under new owners

Tender meat, tangy sauce, JoJo potatoes, fried okra and more have made John Hardy's Bar-B-Que a Med City favorite since its first opened in 1972.
Ed Pompeian, who owned the two Hardy's restaurants from 1988 to 2000, knows that the flavorful food and the experienced staff are what brings people back again and again to the homey barbecue joints.

That's why the Rochester Realtor and developer has no plans to change anything, now that he has once again taken the helm of Rochester's popular southern eateries.
"It has a good thing going that I'd like to keep that going. We want to keep it running just as it is," he says. "I don't see any reason to change it."

That means the name, the food and the staff of about 50 employees will remain unchanged under Pompeian's leadership. The pair of Rochester eateries are located at 929 W. Frontage Road and 1940 South Broadway.

He took over the restaurants on Nov. 9 along with minority owners, Dave Hanson and Red Courtney. Pompeian was approached about once again driving John Hardy's Bar-B-Que following the recent, unexpected death of former owner John Brockman. Brockman bought the business in 2000.

With two weeks of his being being approached, the deal was done.

It wasn't a hard sell. He says it is still as good of an operation as it was when he previously bought the original from the Hardy family in 1988. He and his partners, Tom Berg, Donald Jendersee, John Michael Ajouri and Norm Gillette launched the South Broadway location that same year.

"Most of the management  and a lot of the staff are same ones who worked for us before," Pompeian says. "It is a good team."

Speaking of good teams, he is also happy with how the ownership team worked out. His minority partners from Rochester have the right experiences to help with Hardy's. Hanson owns many Perkins restaurants in the region and Courtney has long been a key leader of Rochester Meats.

"It's kind of a perfect marriage," Pompeian says.

November 20, 2012

New Med City center to treat 'lousey' problem

A new addition to Rochester is the latest result of two Minnesota moms finding a better solution to a problem that was bugging their kids.

The Twin Cities-based Ladibugs treats head lice with natural products developed by Rachel Knutson and Lisa Rudquist, two suburban moms and nurses.

There are two Ladibugs treatment centers in the Twin Cities area and now they are coming to Rochester. Look for Ladibugs to open on Dec. 1 in the Cedarwood Plaza on 18th Avenue Northwest. That deal was handled by Bucky Beeman of Rochester's Realty Growth Inc.

ElimProduct-line-upThe plan is to have three on staff here and offer treatment by appointment as well providing free educational programs about preventing head lice. They also offer in-home treatment.

So how did these two typical moms become so passionate about treating children with head lice that they can discuss squirm-worthy topics like louses, nits and related topics for hours on end?

"It came out of necessity. When our kids had head lice, we used the only available over-the-counter treatments available. These chemicals were a horrible thing to use on kids," says Knutson. "So we created a company that is exactly what we needed back then."

Ladibugs uses a three-step process that uses a natural mint serum to suffocate the bugs followed by two rounds of using a special yeast-based "mousse" that dissolves the "glue" that adheres the parasites' eggs or nits to the scalp. A couple dry towelings between mousse uses with a wrap-up comb-out with Ladibugs special metal micro-grooved comb complete the hour or so treatment.

"All of the over the counter products focus on either just the louse or on the nits. Ours is the only system that takes care of both," she says. "The over-the-counter treatments on the market are old and haven't changed. Now the lice are becoming resistant to them. They're becoming superbugs."

Most Great Clips hair salon now sell the Ladibugs lice treatment products.

For children older than four, Ladibugs also uses a FDA-cleared device call the Lousebuster that uses heat to kill the critters. They guarantee being lice-free for two weeks after the Lousebuster treatment.

Ladibugs even have a product to prevent lice infestation that can be sprayed on backpacks and coats.

"Head lice is not a hygiene issue. Lice prefer clear hair," says Knutson. "Kids bringing head lice home from school is second to only the common cold. Lice never take a break."

Coffee, snacks + waiting room = 'ahhh…'

Sometimes a cup of coffee and a pastry is just what the doctor ordered, particularly while cooling your heels in a waiting room.
Deb Thoe thinks she has just the prescription for that.

On Monday, she opened Coffee Med within Olmsted Medical Center's Northwest Clinic. Right after walking in the Rochester clinic at 5067 55th St. N.W., visitors should spot Thoe's little shop on their way to the appointment desk.

"I want people to feel welcome when they come in and feel good when they leave," Thoe says.

6a00d83451cc8269e20133f2c9cc4d970b-800wiStarting at 7 a.m. every weekday, she brews four or five different types of coffee and offers juices, soda and hot chocolate. For folks who were fasting until their blood test and hungry for a little something more, Thoe is working with Rochester's Gingerbread House to have baked goods. She also plans to have some fresh fruit.

She's serving it all up on a grab-and-go basis. However, Thoe says this new project is about much more than selling coffee and snacks.

"My main goal is to take care of the patients. I'm very excited to work with OMC and help out in my own way," she says. "I'm really excited for the opportunity. I really enjoy working with the public."

Thoe previously ran an orchard business in Iowa until her family re-located to Rochester. She has been looking for something new, and she acted fast when the previous coffee vending pulled out of the clinic.

"We put this deal together in about 30 to 40 days," she says.

Now she just wants to give people a reason to say 'Ahhh …' that doesn't involve a tongue depressor.

November 16, 2012

Mayo Clinic bulks up on warehouse space

Mayo Clinic is bulking up its warehouse space in northwest Rochester just as a "warehouse" store is opening its doors.

Everyone knows (or should, if they read the Post-Bulletin) that Costco opened its new Rochester store today. Costco prefers to label its retail locations as "warehouses" instead of stores.
This follows Mayo Clinic's recent $2.9 million purchase of an almost 200,000-square-foot warehouse at 2915 Valleyhigh Dr. N.W.

Mayo bought the warehouse facility on Oct. 15 from a Minnetonka, Minn.-based company under the straightforward name of 2915 LLC.

IBM and Maysteel have used the 46-year-old facility for storage in the past.

What does Mayo Clinic have planned for this additional warehouse space? That seems to be still in the works.

“Mayo Clinic did acquire the warehouse property and at this time we have not yet formally determined how we will occupy the property,” responded James Bruhn of Mayo Clinic's Real Estate and Property Management Services department.

November 09, 2012

City to demolish ex-halal market

With an expectation that the land will eventually be sold to the University of Minnesota Rochester, the City of Rochester is demolishing a small 62-year-old building that last housed a halal meat market.

HalalmarketA demolition permit was filed this week for the 3,000-square-foot brick building at 114 Sixth St. S.W. The City of Rochester bought the empty building from Ahmednur Ahmed in August for $245,000.

"We bought it with the intention that we'd take it down and eventually sell it to the University of Minnesota for their future campus," says Doug Knott, the city’s downtown development director.

That's the same scenerio that saw the City of Rochester buy the ex-KTTC building at at 609 First Ave. S.W plus an adjacent one. Those buildings, which were between the YMCA and the halal market, have since been demolished.

The halal market is now being prepared for demolition. Once it is torn down, the site will be filled in with soil and planted with grass, says Knott.

Then, like the other two empty lots, will await UMR's eventual purchase.

November 08, 2012

Downtown grocery, apt. complex shaping up

As the Rochester street work around it wraps up, it looks like construction is going full tilt on the Metropolitan Market Place complex at First Avenue and Sixth Street Southwest.

11082012metromarketplacejkWisconsin-based Gerrard Corp. is building the four-story apartment complex with the new People’s Food Cooperative (former Good Food Store) grocery on the main level.

It will have 62 apartments when all of the dust settles.

A little farther south on First Avenue, the University of Minnesota Rochester recently bought a two-story office complex in preparation for its long-term plan of building a 10.5 acre campus in that area.Get_photo-1

I have more on that in an article in today's paper.

If I understand the future plans correctly, the Metro Market complex will be basically across the First Ave./Sixth St. intersection from the entrance to this future university campus. Not a bad place to be, I'd guess.


November 05, 2012

Of hot dogs and hotels

It weighs five tons, is 11 feet tall, is 27 feet long and has four wheels.

What is it? The most famous food-shaped vehicles in history, of course, the Wienermobile. The iconic vehicle that is as recognizable as the Batmobile, Bigfoot or the Mystery Machine is rolling along the Med City's streets yet again.

05012012weinermobileVery early this morning (the Daylight Savings switch had me out a lot later or earlier than usual. Heh.), I spotted massive fiberglass hot dog proudly parked across Second Street Southwest from Saint Marys Hospital.

Even more interesting than the brightly-colored vehicle was the hotel sign at 1211 Second St. S.W.

In a column last week, I teased that a Med City hotel was looking at making a change. That seems to have happened, since the sign over the Oscar Mayer car says Aspen Suites instead of Staybridge Suites.
The 83-suite hotel, along with the Fiksdal Hotel, is owned by Blue Stem Capital of Sioux Fall, S.D., and Glen Fiksdal of Rochester.

I guess I should stop hotdogging and give them a call to find out the details.