Gasol now is one of about 5,000 patients that have been treated with Tenex Health Inc.'s TX1 instrument, since the firm took its specialty needle system to market at the start of 2012.
Dr. Jagi Gill, of Rochester, founded Tenex in 2009, and it received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2011. Since then it has quickly been gaining traction and is now listing "multi-millions" in sales.
"We moved past the 'Will it work?' and 'Can we make it?' stages. Now we are building a sales team and working a marketing message," Gill said.
Tenex now is selling the system to doctors. The firm has 12 sales representatives, and he hopes to grow that number to 40 by the third quarter of 2013.
Gill began his career in Mayo Clinic's Department of Neurology. He has since worked at Boston Scientific as well as a number of biotechnology start-ups.
Tenex's one-time use, disposable handpiece was developed and commercialized in collaboration with Mayo Clinic. Tenex licenses technology from Mayo Clinic and in turn, Mayo owns equity in Tenex.
"The folks at Mayo have been very helpful," he said.
The TX1 system uses ultrasound technology to treat damaged tendons or soft tissue in elbows, knees, ankles, feet and shoulders. Unlike surgery, patients can walk out after what is often a procedure no longer than 20 minutes.
"It is well-tolerated and safe as an injection," says Gill.
That and the quick recovery are making Tenex very popular with athletes, people with work-related injuries and patients who simply "want to have an active lifestyle."
Gasol is not the only celebrity who has discovered Tenex. TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest has also has his elbow treated with the TX1 system.
At one point, Tenex looked at Rochester, nearby Elk Run and even Willmar, Minn., as possible locations for a manufacturing facility. In the end, the decision was made to acquire the California company that handled the early manufacturing on a contract basis.
So why not do the manufacturing in Rochester?
"The challenge that any company would have in going here is that there isn't a lot of experience in terms of engineering, manufacturing, production, quality systems," says Gill.
He explained that medical device hotspots, not only have a medical system or university for generating ideas, but also "They have an imbedded group of people that know how to turn on an infrastructure."