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August 10, 2015

TapImmune using Mayo Clinic tech for possible cancer vaccine

 

Assistant Manager Editor Mike Klein spotlighted a press announcement from a Seattle-based biotech company called TapImmune Inc. working with Mayo Clinic this morning.

I remember in 2010, when TapImmune first licensed Mayo Clinic technology and began collaborating with Mayo's world-renowned vaccine exTapimmunelogopert, Dr. Gregory Poland.

At that point, they were working with a Small Pox construct to create the vaccine for cancer as well as other infectious threats like, Ebola.

In May of this year, reports came out about Mayo Clinic's Dr. Edith Perez saying how this vaccine changed her view towards preventative medicine. She is working with TapImmune oon applying the vaccine to fight breast cancer.

TapImmune had only $142,000 in and $3.3 million in losses at that point in May.

This appears to be a promising company with deep ties to Mayo Clinic. It seems like a good candidate to based in Rochester rather than someplace like Seattle.

Here's some of what Klein filed on this for today's paper:

Seattle-based TapImmune Inc. has exercised its option agreement with Mayo Clinic to use its technology in a possible vaccine for certain types of cancer, it announced.

TapImmune signed a worldwide exclusive license agreement to commercialize a "proprietary folate receptor alpha vaccine technology for all cancer indications."

This technology, developed in the laboratory of Keith Knutson at Mayo, has successfully completed Phase I clinical trials in ovarian and triple-negative breast cancer. The trial demonstrated the experimental therapy was "safe, well-tolerated, provided a robust immune response," according to the news release. Next, TapImmune plans a Phase II clinical trial in the second half of the year.

TapImmune CEO Dr. Glynn Wilson said the company's future clinical programs will be "aimed at developing this leading vaccine candidate as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with other immunotherapies."

Mayo Clinic has a financial interest in the technology.

August 07, 2015

Apollo Liquors Express opens Oronoco location

Apollo is coming to Oronoco.

968825_549948038406056_1931891568_nThe Oronoco Gas N Go convenience store on the east side of U.S. Highway 52 North is popping the top on a new store-within-a-store today. The Gas N Go is opening up an Apollo Liquors Express store today.

To launch the new venture, the Gas N Go is hosting a grand opening celebration today and Saturday with music, food and prize giveaways.

August 05, 2015

Insurer expands relationship with Mayo Clinic to bring more patients here

Two Minnesota health-care giants, Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealth Group, are joining forces to bring thousands of new patients to Rochester and other Mayo sites for treatment.

The Eden Prairie-based insurance provider UnitedHealth announced today it will recommend that patients with certain conditions travel to Mayo Clinic for care, through UnitedHealth's Optum Centers of Excellence Program.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upCompanies can sign up for coverage under the Centers of Excellence through UnitedHealth or directly through Optum. That means referring patients to designated sites, such as Mayo Clinic's campuses in Rochester, Florida and Arizona, for treatment. Participating in the program may include some coverage of travel and lodging costs.

Mayo Clinic has been listed by Optum as a Center for Excellence for organ transplants for 11 years. Optum says it makes more than 14,000 transplant referrals a year. Neither group said how many Optum organ transplant referrals come to Mayo Clinic each year.

Today's announcement adds the three Mayo Clinic locations to the list of preferred sites for treatment of cancer, heart failure, congenital heart disease, infertility and bariatric surgery.

“This expanded relationship with Mayo Clinic provides patients in participating health plans from around the country with greater access to clinically superior, cost-effective health care,” stated Mike Weissel of Optum Consumer Solutions in today's announcement.

Neither Mayo Clinic nor UnitedHealth released any estimates on how many more patients this might bring to Mayo Clinic or how much money it might bring in for Mayo Clinic. However, it clearly could be a great boon for the medical center and communities such as Rochester.

All of the new conditions added to list are major medical treatments. A look at just bariatric surgery shows the potential for growth. 

Mayo Clinic reports it performs more than 300 bariatric surgeries a year in Rochester. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery estimated a total of 179,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in the U.S. in 2013.

Both Mayo and Optum stressed how this new relationship will benefit patients by providing "access to high-quality, cost-effective care."

“Health plans and employers know the value of sending patients with complex and or rare conditions to high-quality centers such as Mayo Clinic,” said Dr. Charles Rosen, Mayo Clinic's medical director of contracting and payer relations.

Today's announcement marks the latest collaboration between Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealth/ Optum. Earlier this year, Mayo Clinic announced its partnership with Optum360 for revenue management services.

In 2013, they launched "a strategic research alliance"  to create a state-of-the-art facility in Cambridge, Mass under the umbrella of OptumLabs. OptumLabs is a for-profit unit of UnitedHealthcare's Optum division, which earned $1.3 billion in 2011. 

The research facility today has 22 major corporate partners and has more than 100 studies in process.

Boston Scientific buys major stake in local firm, Preventice

Preventice Solutions, a maker of wearable cardiac monitors with deep Rochester roots, is getting a major boost from a medical giant.

Boston Scientific Corp. announced Tuesday it now is "a significant shareholder" in Preventice as well as its "exclusive worldwide sales and marketing representative."

Preventice, which has a large development center in northwest Rochester, makes the wearable BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System, developed from research licensed from Mayo.

144536The new deal clears the way for Preventice to reach the remote monitoring market estimated to total $19 billion to $21 billion by 2016. Experts anticipate almost five million patients will be using some type of wireless monitoring by then.

"As our health-care environment continues to evolve, health-care practitioners, administrators and payors are looking for solutions that identify relevant clinical insights from large volumes of patient data and integrate those insights to improve clinical decision-making," said Boston Science Executive Vice President Joe Fitzgerald in Tuesday's announcement.

Fitzgerald described Preventice as having "an infrastructure optimized to monitor hundreds of thousands of patients each year."

The privately owned firm has grown quickly since being launched in 2007 with only its founders on staff. Preventice evolved from Boost Information Services. It was founded by Jon Otterstatter, Greg Wobig, Dan Spors and Scott Burrichter.

Preventice started as a developer of medical information smartphone apps, in collaboration with Mayo Clinic and Merck. Then it shifted gears to begin developing wearable cardiac monitors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its wireless BodyGuardian monitor to be prescribed to track nonlethal arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeats, in 2012.

In 2013, Preventice began shipping out its BodyGuardian systems to feed what CEO Otterstatter described then as the health-care industry's growing "fever" for remote medical monitoring. That year, it expanded to about 100 employees, with about half in Preventice's Rochester offices. Based in Minneapolis, Preventice also has an office in Fargo, N.D.

Preventice Solutions merged with Houston, Texas-based eCardio Diagnostics in 2014, under the holding company of Preventice Inc.

August 04, 2015

Thai eatery closes, hopes to hit road as food truck

A northwest Rochester restaurateur has closed the doors of his eatery, but he hopes to eventually take his menu on the road.

Over the weekend, Pativath "Vot" Louprasong closed Sok Dee at 4180 18th Ave. NW in front of the Cedarwood Plaza shopping center. He said expenses had just gotten too high keep it open there.

That's the building which previously has housed Far East FusionJohn Hardy's Bar-B-Q and Roscoe's Root Beer & Ribs.

08042015sokdeeclosedLouprasong opened the Thai restaurant in 2013. In the past two years, his family's Thai food earned him a small but loyal group of fans in Rochester. He said he wants to thank those customers for their business. That's part of what is driving his plan to follow the hot national trend and start up a Sok Dee food truck.

"I have a good following of people. I'd like to start a food truck by early next spring," he said. "This won't be the last time they hear from me."

In 2013, Louprasong, the youngest of 10 siblings, said opening a restaurant was something he's wanted to do, "since my family came to the U.S. in 1979."

He thinks he'll have good luck with a truck — and Sok Dee means, basically, "good luck" in both the Thai and Laotian languages.

Why start a truck instead of looking for a new restaurant location?

"The freedom," said Louprasong. "But eventually, I would like have another sit-down restaurant."

 

July 30, 2015

Posh Boutique opening shop in Rochester

A Sioux Falls, S.D., women's fashion shop is opening a new location in Rochester soon.

Posh Boutique, a clothing store that carries "premium denim and unique fashion lines," plans to open on Saturday in Suite 200 at 123 16th Ave. SW. That's the space between Cherry Berry yogurt and the Rocco Altobelli Salon that last housed the About Face beauty boutique.

Posh BoutiquePosh, which is not connected with Rochester's Posh Facial Esthetics Med Spa, is owned by Sioux Falls natives Jenny Kaiser and Becky Carmody. The new Rochester store will be managed by Suzanne Ledeboer.

On their website, the owners wrote about why they decided to open their second store in Rochester.

"We are very excited about Rochester, because we feel it has many qualities that are similar to Sioux Falls. It has a vibrant downtown and draws people from many surrounding communities. We love that Rochester has all the amenities of a city, but still has a small town feel," they wrote.

In an announcement about the Rochester store, Kaiser explained what shoppers will find in Posh.

"Our clothing lines are unique and many times, exclusive to our store. We really value the relationship we build with our customers, and plan to take the time to get to know the needs and wants of each of them," she wrote. 

July 29, 2015

More on Mayo Clinic + US Postal facility

 So the Post-Bulletin is not the only Minnesota media to take note of Mayo Clinic's recent $2.11 million purchase of the unused U.S. Postal Service center at 3939 Valleyhigh Drive.

PostalcenterOn July 17, Mayo closed the $29.13 a square foot deal on the northwest Rochester property, which the US Post Office closed in January. I wrote an article about it on July 21.

The Twin Cities business newspaper, Finance & Commerce, spotlighted the deal in it's "Minnesota Snapshot" real estate feature in its July 23 issue.

While Mayo Clinic still hasn't worked out what it will do the building that it purchased, the Finance & Commerce piece by Anne Bretts does provide some new insight into how the deal played out.

Chris Gliedman, of the Minneapolis-St. Paul office of CBRE Group, which has a national contract to represent the USPS.

Gleidman and colleague Mike Marinovich most recently marketed several properties that became available after the Postal Service consolidated many of its operations in Eagan, where the USPS expanded an existing facility to create a 950,000-square-foot regional processing center.

The move affected facilities throughout Minnesota and into Wisconsin.

------------

The Rochester property went on the market in January 2014.

“We had pretty good interest,” Gleidman said.

In fact, he was in discussions within months and had it under contract by fall. The buyer withdrew, however, leaving Gleidman and Marinovich to start over. Before they could put the building back on the market, Mayo made an offer. It was lower than the original offer, but the deal carried no risk, Gleidman said.

“We felt very comfortable that Mayo Clinic was going to deliver,” Gleidman said.

July 28, 2015

Mayo Clinic-linked NeoChord on 'Hot Devices We Can't Get in US' list

NeoChord, a medical device firm I first wrote about in 2007, made a top 10 list this week on the Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry news site.

They posted a "10 Hot Devices We can't Get in the US" list on their Device Talk blog with this set-up text block:

Patients in the United States enjoy some of the best medical care in the world, but many observers worry that the country's regulatory environment is pushing medical innovation to other shores. Whether you believe FDA oversight is too stringent, too lax, or strikes the right balance, there are numerous medical devices that have achieved CE Marking, but aren't yet FDA approved.

NeoChord's DS1000 made the list. It earned a CE Marking in December 2012 but does not have FDA approval.

 

The Eden Prairie-based NeoChord surfaced locally in 2007, when it licensed technology designed byMayo Clinic cardiac surgeons Dr. Richard Daly and Dr. Giovanni Speziali. Speziali was named as the company's chief medical officer in 2013. 

NeoChord-DS1000Beside licensing its technology, Mayo Clinic has also previously invested in NeoChord. 

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.

Treatment 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 market for less invasive techniques for mitral valve repair has been estimated at more than $2 billion. 

New pizza place cooking for NW Rochester

Pizza is returning to Rochester's Northgate Plaza neighborhood.


A new carryout franchise called $5 Pizza is gearing up to open in the former Pizza Hut space at 1105 Seventh St. NW, says co-owner Doug Howe. Construction is underway, and he hopes to have the new eatery open by late August.

They expect to have a team of five to 10 employees on staff.

Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate brokered the deal to bring $5 Pizza into that spot.

UnnamedHowe and his partner, Rod Bailey, believe the pizza chain, which has 13 Minnesota locations, is a good fit for Rochester and that neighborhood in particular.

"We tried it up in the Cities. We loved the product and we loved the concept. We bake it and you carry it out," he said. "With this economy, it's always not always easy to feed a family."

The $5 Pizza approach is to keep costs down by not offering restaurant seating or delivery. Customers pick up pizzas. All one-topping pizzas cost just $5.

It offers a full menu, which includes specialty pizzas such as Cheeseburger and Inferno Chicken. It also serves breadsticks and a variety of chicken wings.

That spot puts $5 Pizza in the heart of a busy northwest Rochester neighborhood.

"We liked the fact it's a block away from John Marshall High School. And there's a lot of housing right behind us," said Howe. "Geographically, it's a great location for us."

July 24, 2015

A new burger chain plans to 'smash' into Rochester

Could the flames of Rochester's always simmering burger wars soon flare up from the heat of competition?

Possibly. Another national gourmet burger chain is planning to smash into the Rochester market.

Smashburger, a trendy burger juggernaut, is expanding rapidly its footprint across the U.S. and now Rochester is on its radar. The chain is known for "smashing" its fresh hamburger patties to sear in flavor.

Bigburger_situational_960x394_home_page-cactusSmashburger Marketing Manager Christine Ferris said they hope to be cooking in Rochester by late March 2016.

"To answer your question, we do have a site picked out according to our real estate sheet and it’s going to be a corporate restaurant, not franchise. It looks like the projected opening date is for late March of 2016," she wrote in answer to an inquiry about their plans.

This could bring a competitor into a city already dominated by hometown favorite and local burger champion Newt's.

In 2009, Five Guys Burgers arrived and threw down the burger battle gauntlet. Newt's has kept its title as the top burger power, but plenty of skirmishes continue between Five Guys, Culvers and the usual lineup of fast-food suspects.

SmashBurger_logoReaders have been clamoring for burger specialists White Castle, Red Robin and/or Sonic Drive-in for many years, but none of those players have ever gotten serious about cooking in the Med City.

The Denver, Colo.-based company already has 13 restaurants in Minnesota and is ready to start construction on a new one in Shakopee, according to an article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal this week.

If Smashburger does open in Rochester in March, it will be the first new big national name to jump into the local fray, since Five Guys arrived six years ago.