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May 21, 2014

Mayo launching bioservices firm

Mayo Clinic has long processed and stored patient specimens for its own researchers.

Now it's packaging those services and others together to offer to outside clients via a new start-up company to be called Mayo Clinic Bioservices.

537cd487db2b9.image"Basically, we're taking advantage of some internal business that we've been doing for some time and now we're offering all of that externally to customers," explained Stephen Thibodeau, co-director of the Biorepositories Program in the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine.

This new firm will allow Mayo Clinic to compete in a growing bio industry valued internationally in the billions.

He compared the business model to that used at Mayo Medical Labs, which tests patient sample for hospitals and researchers around the world. Mayo Clinic Biosciences won't run tests, though it will process, store and ship samples for its clients.

In addition to those services, it will also offer access to Mayo Clinic's Biobank. The Biobank features thousands of biological samples, such as blood, from healthy volunteers. Mayo Clinic has been collecting samples for seven years toward reaching a goal of 50,000 samples. Thibodeau estimates that the Biobank will finally reach that goal by June 2015.

The primary base for the new operation is being set up in the warehouse at 2915 Valleyhigh Dr. N.W., which Mayo Clinic bought in 2012. Some freezer units have already been installed and more construction to adapt the facility is underway. Thibodeau estimates that the facility will be ready this summer. Mayo Bioservices is expected to move in by August and have the operation running by September. It will also have satellite locations on Mayo Clinic's Florida and Arizona campuses.

Mayo Clinic currently supports the internal clinic sample processing and storage with a staff of about 70 employees, 50 of which work in Rochester.

"Initially, we expect to have a sufficient amount of staff. Though we do expect the business to grow over time and that we'll need to add more later," he said.

While it's not in operation yet, Mayo Clinic Bioservices has already signed up its first customer.Los Angles-based Sanguine recently signed up to have Mayo Clinic Bioservices process, store and ship biospecimens that Sanguine has collected for clients.

"We are excited about the pilot project with Mayo, not only because it increases the scalability of our business, but also because it allows individuals that have been on our waiting list to participate in the research and development of new treatments," stated Sanguine CEO Brian Neman in the annoucement. "Mayo Clinic Bioservices has tremendous infrastructure and processing capacity that will meet our existing needs while also offering the potential for future expansion."

The agreement between Mayo Clinic and Sanguine is a fee-per-service deal at this point, though they expect the business connection to deepen as time goes on.

"We hope to have a long-term relationship with Sanguine," according to Thibodeau. "Essentially, we're the laboratory arm of Sanguine."

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