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537 posts categorized "Biobiz news"

October 15, 2014

Ex-Mayo exec accused of stealing trade secrets

A former top Mayo Clinic executive is being sued for allegedly hiding his hiring by a competitor of Mayo Medical Laboratories for months while he continued to work for Mayo and for stealing trade secrets.

Franklin-cockerillMayo Clinic filed a lawsuit alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract against Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, who was president and chief executive officer of the for-profit Mayo Medical Labs for eight years. The case was filed Tuesday in Olmsted County District Court. Mayo Clinic released the lawsuit to the media this morning.
 
A Mayo Clinic statement released by Bryan Anderson this morning said, “We do not take this action lightly. Dr. Cockerill was a valued Mayo Clinic clinician, leader and colleague.  We will vigorously defend and protect our intellectual property to ensure we can continue to meet our charitable mission,"

A call to Dr. Cockerill's southwest Rochester residence went unanswered this morning. Asked to comment, Quest Director of Media Relations Wendy Bost said the company received the complaint this morning and is reviewing it. "We do not comment on pending litigation," Bost said.

According to the complaint:

On July 17, an emotional Cockerill told his department that he was "retiring" to help his 85-year-old mother run her fertilizer business in Nebraska. Co-workers lauded his almost 30-year career with Mayo Clinic and gave him an appreciative send-off that built up to his final day of work on Sept. 30.

All of that changed on Oct. 1. Instead of retiring to Nebraska, Cockerill went to New Jersey to work for a major MML competitor, Quest Diagnostics Inc. He stepped into the position of vice president and chief laboratory officer for the multibillion public company.

Using emails as evidence, Mayo Clinic contends Cockerill had been talking to Quest about a job since February. He had a phone interview with Quest in March followed by a face-to-face interview in May, when Cockerill said he needed the time off to help his mother with a business problem. The lawsuit alleges he accepted the Quest position in June. Instead of informing Mayo Clinic, he continued to work at Mayo and attend confidential meetings, where issues were discussed that could cause irreparable damage to MML and Mayo Clinic in the hands of Quest.

Cockerill exchanged emails discussing business strategies with Quest CEO Stephen Rusckowski in August, according to Mayo's suit.

Mayo Clinic alleges Cockerill left with at least seven clinic-owned USB memory drives and that he used four of them to "download information from Dr. Cockerill's computer in the days before … (he) started working for Quest."

Mayo Medical Labs and Quest vie for millions in medical test contracts. Mayo Medical Labs performs about 20 million tests for more than 4,000 hospitals annually. Quest says it does 1.5 billion tests a year. Many of the clinical tests conducted by both MML and Quest are proprietary and generate millions in revenue.

The lawsuit also claims Cockerill attempted to recruit "at least one long-term key Mayo employee to consider retiring early to 'consult' with the lab industry," though he did not specifically mention Quest to the female executive.

October 13, 2014

New biotech office launches in Rochester

This one seems to have a lot of local momentum behind it.

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The health care technology arm of a Sri Lanka-based company is officially launching its Rochester office on Tuesday morning.

Brandix i310132014brandixoffice is hosting a grand opening in the morning of its 2,000-square-foot office on the skyway level of Minnesota BioBusiness Center at 221 First Ave. S.W.

The software development firm has been working out of a spot in the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, since early summer. The business accelerator is located on the same floor of the Biobusiness Center as Brandix's new office.

Aaron Epps, Brandix's associate vice president of health care, said earlier this year that office would launch with six employees, though he expects it to grow to 12 by the end of the year

"We want to be part of the Destination Medical Center project," he said. "We're looking to expand quickly. We're a start-up, but we're a start-up with the backing of a large 10132014brandixskywaysigncompany."

Brandix's focus is to work with its local partner, Rochester-based Ambient Clinical Analytics. Ambient makes "real-time decision support tools" for doctors and nurses working in the ICU, operating room or emergency departments.

Mayo Clinic launched Ambient in 2013, and it named Al Berning as CEO. Berning is known in Rochester as a former IBMer, a co-founder of Pemstar and former CEO of Hardcore Computers/LiquidCool Solutions. Ambient's management team includes other local business leaders, like former long-time IBM executives Drew Flaada and Deb Sutherland.

Brandix has a three-year lease with the City of Rochester. It pays $20 per rentable foot
is In addition to the leasing the 2,000-square-feet, Brandix's lease promises "first right of refusal" for the other 2,000 square feet of adjacent vacant space to the west.

The city gave Brandix "a one-time fit-up allowance" of $10 per square foot, or $20,000, to build out its offices.

Mayo, Cardio3 sign deal to expand collaboration

Mayo Clinic has deepened its long-time relationship with Cardio3 Biosciences by giving the Belgium firm "preferred access" to new regenerative-medicine discoveries.

Having preferred access means staff from Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine meet with Cardio3 on a quarterly basis to discuss technologies and research that are in the "pipeline," according to Michael Pfenning, center administrator. This gives Cardio3 the first chance to ask to license, purchase or otherwise work with the center's regenerative-medicine research.

008661829The access began on Oct. 1 and runs to December 2017. It then could be extended, if both parties agree.

Mayo Clinic and Cardio3 have collaborated for many years on the cardiopoiesis technology the company uses to repair patients' hearts by re-programming their own stem cell to regenerate cardiac tissue. Cardiopoiesis is a process that "re-programs" stem cells taken from a patient's bone marrow from their hip. Those re-programmed cells then are injected back into the patient's heart to repair damaged tissue.

Cardio3 BioSciences has licensed Mayo Clinic's research in this area, since 2007. That research was led by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar. Dr. Terzic, who along with Mayo Clinic has a financial interest in Cardio3, also is the director of Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine.

Mayo Clinic is helping Cardio3 with its new phase III clinical trial of its regenerative therapy. The trial is approved to recruit up to 240 patients and it is expected to begin in January. Rochester Area Economic Development Inc., the City of Rochester and Mayo Clinic are establishing a 2,000-square-foot facility in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center to freeze and prepare patient samples for shipping to Belgium.

"We have a great relationship with them from a commercialization perspective," said Timothy Argo, a technology licensing manager of Mayo Clinic Ventures. "From our perspective, this is all about finding ways to get things from our labs to patients faster."

Cardio3 sees the new relationship as a win-win.

“Mayo will continue to invent new concepts, while Cardio3 will offer its development expertise to those technologies, as well as guidance in the early development phases to the Mayo research teams," stated Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy in the announcement of the deal. "This agreement is in line with our business development strategy defined earlier this year, and enables our company to rapidly and significantly enlarge its product portfolio with high quality research programs across multiple therapeutic areas.”

July 01, 2014

Mayo Clinic-linked Cardio3 making push into China

Cardio3 BioSciences, a Belgium company working closely with Mayo Clinic, recently launched a joint venture in China, the third largest pharmaceutical market in the world.

Cardiobioscience_jpegWorking with Hong Kong-based Medisun International Limited, it created Cardio3 BioSciences Asia Holdings Ltd. to make a serious push into China. As part of the deal, Medisun purchased $34 million in stock. It now owns 8 percent of the company's outstanding shares.

Cardio3 is publicly listed on the European stock markets NYSE Euronext Brussels and NYSE Euronext Paris, though it is not traded publicly in the U.S. Get_photo

The company says that $34 million will finance the U.S. clinical trials for C-Cure, Cardio3's regenerative heart treatment. Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy flew to Rochester in January for a press conference at Mayo Clinic to announce that U.S. trial. Mayo Clinic in Rochester is one of the trial sites. Homsy gave a tentative time line of commercialization in Europe possibly by 2017 and by 2018 in the U.S.

Medisun has also committed to buy an additional $34 million shares of Cardio3 stock from existing shareholders in the next eight month at a price per share equivalent to the 10 days average preceding the offer.

This new deal means Medisun's ownership of Cardio3 has quickly leapfrogged Mayo Clinic's investment. As of June 16, Mayo Clinic owned 5.05 percent of the available shares of Cardio3. Medisun had just 4.21 percent at that point. As of June 25, Mayo Clinic controlled 3.1 percent of the shares.

Mayo Clinic researchers Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar originally developed the proprietary process of regenerating heart tissue with stem cells drawn from a patient's own bone marrow. Since 2007, Cardio3 has licensed patents and related research from Mayo Clinic. Terzic and Behfar each have a financial interest in the company.

Homsy has previously stated that he hopes to eventually base a few employees in Rochester for office and laboratory work. Cardio3 previously attempted to open a U.S. headquarters here, but that fizzled when the one person based here left.

Many consider what Cardio3 is attempting as the "holy grail" of cardiac treatments. Terzic previously described repairing faulty hearts as a "major unmet need worldwide." He estimated about one-third of all deaths stem from heart disease.

To date, the promising company has raised $121 million in equity and capital.

A recent study also estimated that the global market for such treatments could grow to $18.2 billion by 2019. The U.S. market was valued at $6.1 billion in 2012, with potential to increase to $8.49 billion by 2019.

“With this presence in Greater China, we are very proud to become the first global player in the field of cardiac regenerative medicines, aiming to commercialize our leading edge cell therapy to patients all across the globe,” stated Cardio Chairman Michel Lussier in the announcement of the venture.

Medisun Chairman Danny Wong says that his company is organizing medical conventions in August "to promote cell based medicines as well as Cardio3’s technology" in both Beijing and Shanghai.

"We are passionate about this project and I am certain that our involvement with Cardio3 as a leader in this field, combined with our local knowledge of the regulatory, healthcare and market access capabilities and expertise, will bring success to all the parties involved,” said Wong.

All the costs of Cardio3's moves in China will be funded by Medisun, with a minimum of $27 million committed during a three year period. Cardio 3 has 40 percent ownership in the joint venture, which will drop to 30 percent when clinical trials are up and running.

Success of the Phase III clinical trials that allow Cardio3 to market C-Cure in Asia would trigger  royalties ranging between 20 and 30 percent of net sales depending on total revenue of the joint venture.

June 25, 2014

Mayo Clinic-linked NeoChord gets new leader

An Eden Prairie company that makes a medical device based on Mayo Clinic research named a new leader this week for the first time since it launched in 2007.

NeoheartNeoChord announced that David H. Chung was appointed as president and CEO, "effective immediately." He replaced John Seaberg, who resigned.

“David Chung’s extensive experience in building and managing international sales forces will be invaluable, as we introduce NeoChord’s innovative technology to patients throughout Europe,” said Dr. Michael Fulton, Neochord's chairman of the board.

For the past seven years, the company has been developing a device designed by Mayo Clinic cardiac surgeons Dr. Richard Daly and Dr. Giovanni Speziali. Beside licensing its technology, Mayo Clinic also is invested in an equity position in the firm. Speziali was named as the company's chief medical officer in 2013.

The NeoChord DS1000 device is used to treat a heart condition called mitral regurgitation. Mitral regurgitation means the valve or leaflet that controls the flow of blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle is not working properly.

Portfolio-neochord-260x138Treatment typically consists of “cracking the chest,” stopping the heart and doing surgery. NeoChord's approach is much less invasive and can be done on a beating heart. A tool is inserted between the ribs and into the heart. Then it is used to attach a chord to the faulty valve leaflet, which is tethered to the heart.

The former CEO Seaburg described the process as “a very elegant treatment."

A Transapical Artificial Chordae Tendinae (TACT) trial is underway to evaluate the NeoChord DS1000. The system now is being used to treat patients in 18 hospitals across eight countries in Europe. More than 120 patients have been treated. It is not yet cleared for commercial use in the U.S.

The market for less invasive techniques for mitral valve repair has been estimated at more than $2 billion. There are 50,000 surgeries done in the U.S. each year. An estimated 2 million patients are treated due to the risks of surgery.

Since it formed in 2007, NeoChord's lifeblood has been venture capital funding. By 2008, it had raised $3 million. It raised another $5.1 million in 2011 to finance the European clinical trial. In March 2013, it raised $3 million through the sale of its series B-2 preferred stock.

June 17, 2014

Brandix i3 'graduates' from Accelerator, leases BioBusiness Center space

Another start-up is "graduating" from the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator to lease office space in Rochester's Minnesota BioBusiness Center.

02272013mayoaccelerator1As a parting gift, it is providing the Accelerator with a short-term solution to its need to expand by  providing space for it to use.

Brandix i3, the healthcare technology arm of a Sri Lanka-based company, has signed a three-year lease with the City of Rochester for 2,000-square-feet of space on the skyway level of the center at  221 First Ave. S.W. The space is half of a 4,000-square-foot area that never hasHeader been built out for a tenant since the BioBusiness Center opened five years ago.

The software development firm plans to have six employees based in the Rochester office to start with, though it expects to grow to 12 by the end of the year, said Aaron Epps, Brandix's associate vice president of healthcare.

"We want to be part of the Destination Medical Center project," said Epps. "We're looking to expand quickly. We're a start-up, but we're a start-up with the backing of a large company."

051509biobusinesscenteratnightBrandix currently is operating out of the Accelerator space. The lease that was approved by the city council Monday sets Brandix's rent at $20 per rentable foot for the 2,000-square-foot space. It also will pay its share toward the maintenance of the building and its taxes.

The city is giving "a one-time fit-up allowance" of $10 per square foot, or $20,000, to the software firm to prepare its offices.

By comparison, the city signed a five-year lease in 2013 with Patient First Home Infusion Services for $16 per square foot and gave it $10,000 to use for construction costs.

In 2013, Imanis Life Sciences signed a five-year lease set at $15.50 per square foot for the first two years.  It then increases every year to $18.50 by the fifth year. The city also agreed to provide Imanis a $20 per foot allowance to build out the space plus an interest-free loan of up to $10,000.

In addition to the leasing the 2,000-square-feet, Brandix's lease promises "first right of refusal" for the other 2,000 square feet of adjacent vacant space to the west.

"In the interim, the Business Accelerator may lease the adjacent space until such time as it is needed by Brandix," according to the lease. There has been talk of expanding the Accelerator, which opened in 2009.

Epps, who has lived his whole life in Rochester, says the company plans to create a "unique" office to enhance the local business community.

Brandix's focus is to work with its local partner, Rochester-based Ambient Clinical Analytics. Ambient makes "real-time decision support tools" for doctors and nurses working in the ICU, operating room or emergency departments.

Mayo Clinic launched Ambient in 2013, and it named Al Berning as CEO. Berning is known in Rochester as a former IBMer, a co-founder of Pemstar and former CEO of Hardcore Computers/LiquidCool Solutions.

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."

March 03, 2014

Mayo Clinic to expand Superior Drive Support Center

Mayo Clinic is planning to expand its Superior Drive Support Center, which houses Mayo Medical Laboratories.

The clinic submitted plans on Feb. 14 to build a proposed 66,000-square-foot, two-story addition on the south side of the complex at 3050 Superior Drive N.W. 

03032014mayomedlabsMML conducts a wide variety of medical tests for hospitals worldwide. According to its website,
it performs nearly 20 million tests for more than 4,000 hospitals annually. The testing division overall has more than 3,200 employees, including more than 160 physicians and scientists. It has 58 laboratories that perform testing with support from Mayo Clinic physicians.

03032014SDSCplansWhile Mayo Clinic spokesperson confirmed the existence of site development application, officials there say it's too early to discuss specifics such as the timeline for the project or estimated cost. However, the plans designed by Flad Architects offer general details.

The expansion will more than double the lab space in the complex. It currently has 30,854 square feet of labs. The plans show that 34,000 square feet of laboratory area in the proposed addition to bring the total lab space to a total of 65,000 square feet.

Office space in the SDSC is slated to grow by 5,472 square feet, for a total of 137,000 square feet of space, following the expansion.

The remainder of the 26,000 square feet in the proposed expansion is described only as "Other." The first floor of the addition will have 28,533 square feet, and the second level will have 27,842.

Mayo Clinic moved into the 13-year-old complex in 2004. By 2011, approximately 800 employees worked at the facility. It was originally built by electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc. in 2001. When that company closed its Rochester operation, the building was left empty.

While Mayo Clinic leased the property for eight years, it purchased it for $18.5 million in August of 2012. Prior to that it was owned by 17 national investors through Triple Net Properties of Santa Ana, Calif. until they defaulted on the mortgage in 2012.  The investors bought the property for $36.8 million in 2006

When the mortgage defaulted, HSBC Bank USA took over the property. HSCB then sold it to Mayo Clinic.

While it was was originally under construction, New York City-based W. P. Carey & Co. LLC bought the complex from Celestica, which leased it back. W.P. Carey later sold it for about 70 percent more than the $21.6 million it paid for it.

December 05, 2013

Breast cancer scanner maker, once linked to Mayo Clinic, sold to Mexican company

Qg3q4q112233Here's a potentially interesting nugget of news about San Diego-based Naviscan Inc., which was at one pointed linked with Mayo Clinic through intellectual property licenses as well as direct investment by Mayo Medical Ventures.

"… Certain Naviscan Inc. assets including intellectual property and the Naviscan Trademark" have been aquired by a Mexican medical scanner company called Compañía Mexicana de Radiología or CMR.

Not sure what that means exactly, but my guess is that CMR is now behind the steering wheel at Naviscan.

Now I don't know if Mayo Clinic still has any links with Naviscan, but it certainly did at one time. I've got calls into Mayo and Naviscan to check on that.

I wrote the Mayo Clinic-Naviscan relationship back in 2005 through 2007 or so. Sheesh, I've been doing this for a long time.

From back in November 2005:

Naviscan “entered into an agreement with Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (Mayo Clinic) to clinically validate and commercialize a dynamic patented molecular imaging agent for use with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and other imaging modalities. … Mayo Clinic has licensed the vitamin B-12 molecular imaging agent technology invented by Dr. Douglas A.Collins to Naviscan PET Systems, Inc and will receive royalties from this license. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have published studies that cancers have high uptake of radioactive B-12, especially in breast tumors."

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"The combination of the Mayo Clinic’s patented Vitamin B-12 molecular imaging agent and Naviscan’s high-resolution PET scanner holds great promise for the future in terms of early detection of breast cancers,” said Paul Grayson, newly-appointed CEO of Naviscan PET Systems, Inc. and a Managing Director of Sanderling Ventures. “We sought out Naviscan’s technology to strategically invest in this important imaging technology platform.” Naviscan is planning clinical trial work with Mayo Clinic and other luminary sites in the U.S. to prove the value of the PEM Flex in breast cancer patients, as well as for evaluating PEM’s role with high-risk patients.”

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From the same date in 2005:

“Naviscan PET Systems has raised a $6.5 million in Series B funding for its high resolution positron emission tomography (PET) products. The firm said that it raised the round from Sanderling Ventures, with participation from Mayo Medical Ventures."

FYI, Sanderling Ventures now leases a space in the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator.

November 26, 2013

Mayo Clinic-linked Cardio3 part of Europe group awarded $6M research grant

C3bs_logoCardio3 BioSciences, the biotechnology firm based on Mayo Clinic research, is part of a European research consortium that recently snagged a four-year research grant for $4.5 million euros or $6 million U.S. dollars to develop "a bioresorbable polymeric valve tube for the treatment of patient suffering congenital heart defects." 

Cardio3 licensed Mayo Clinic's research back in 2007. That research is led by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar. The therapy uses stem cells from a patient's  bone marrow. Through a proprietary process called Cardiopoiesis, Cardio3 re-programs those cells to become heart cells. The cells are then injected back into the patient's heart to repair damaged tissue.
 
Here's some from the announcement of this latest project:

Cardio3 BioSciences…  is part of a consortium which has been awarded a highly competitive European Union Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP7) research grant from the European Union to support the development of a bioresorbable polymeric valve tube for the treatment of patient suffering congenital heart defects.

The project, titled "Tissue engineering of the right heart outflow tract by biofunctionalized bioresorbable polymeric valved tube", or "TEH-TUBE", is a four year project and will start on 1st January 2014.

Dorv4C3BS is part of a first-in-class, pan-European consortium composed of seven companies and universities, led by the "Assistance Publique Hopitaux de Paris (APHP)" and the team of Professor David Kalfa and Philippe Menasché.

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C3BS is the exploitation manager of the consortium and as such is in charge of exploiting the outcome of the research project. Within the consortium, Cardio3 is also in charge of the production of the mesenchymal stem cells and the definition and the implementation of the regulatory strategy.

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"We are delighted to be part of a project which represents a potential paradigm shift in the treatment of congenital cardiac diseases," said Dr. Christian Homsy, CEO of Cardio3 BioSciences. "We are also honored to be chosen by our partners to exploit the outcome of this program. It demonstrates the confidence and the recognition of our peers in the expertise we have built over the past years. FP7 grants are awarded on the basis of a highly competitive, two-stage, peer-review process, therefore this award serves as recognition of our cell production, regulatory and clinical expertise."


This wraps up a big year for Cardio3 BioSciences. It released an IPO in July on NYSE Euronext stock exchanges in Brussels and Paris that raised $29.6 million, or 23 million Euros.