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We encourage your comments on the blog, and hope you will join the discussions. We review comments before they are posted. Comments that are off-topic or promoting a commercial product won’t make the cut. Mutual respect is a must, and profanity and abusive language is out-of-bounds. For more information see our comment policy.
We monitor but generally do not respond to comments. For comments regarding individual medical cases and issues, please remember that comments are public for all to see. For your privacy, we suggest that you direct your questions to the Regenerative Medicine Consult Service, Mayo’s front door to regenerative therapies and research. To make an appointment, please call us at 844-276-2003 (toll-free).
The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) will host the sixth annual “Feel the Beat” event on Saturday, Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Rochester, Minn. The event is open to everyone.
“Feel the Beat” brings together families, researchers, and clinicians to learn more about and raise awareness of HLHS, a rare and complex form of congenital heart disease in which the left side of a child’s heart is severely underdeveloped. The event, built around science, advocacy, families, and patients, connects those interested in HLHS and those in the HLHS community to share experiences while discovering the pioneering research advancements taking place in the treatment of the disease.
This year’s event focuses on evolution and will feature a wide variety of guest speakers including:
Gabrielle Wanek, a 23-year-old with HLHS paving the way for others
Michelle Waletzko, mother of a child with HLHS and active member of the congenital heart disease community
Elizabeth Raszka, mother of a child with HLHS and active participant of the National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative
Other guest speakers include James Tweddell, M.D., from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Gil Wernovsky, M.D., from Children’s National Heart Institute.
Register to attend by visiting the HLHS blog or show up on the day of the event. Please direct any questions to the HLHS team.
Unfortunately, we cannot diagnose conditions, provide second opinions or make specific treatment recommendations through this correspondence. For questions specific about your health, please reach out to your local provider. To request an appointment at Mayo Clinic, visit or call: http://www.mayoclinic.org/appointments
On June 13, past and future grant awardees gathered for the third Annual Regenerative Medicine Minnesota Idea Exchange and Celebration, held at the University of Minnesota. Regenerative Medicine Minnesota grant awardees presented their progress to date and the future direction of their research. In 2018, eleven Mayo Clinic investigators received awards in education, research, and biotechnology.
In attendance were Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) and Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), who authored the legislation to provide $4.35 million per year to fund the program. Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine, highlighted the advancements of the statewide collaboration led by the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, now in its fourth year of operation.
About Regenerative Medicine Minnesota
In 2014, the Minnesota State Legislature allocated support to fund research, education, patient care, and business development initiatives that improve or increase access to regenerative medicine throughout the state. Regenerative Medicine Minnesota is focused on researching the regenerative medicine therapies of the future, creating the infrastructure and recruiting professionals to deliver these therapies, and bringing these therapies to patients across the state.
Combining innovative Mayo Clinic labs with medical businesses and creative start-up companies will help Rochester — and benefit patients.
Outside his office in the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency, Chris Schad leans over a model of downtown Rochester, Minn. He traces out Discovery Square — the 16-block area south of the main Mayo Clinic campus that is becoming an innovation and business hub.
Wiry and bespectacled, Schad points to 3-D printed models of modern medical buildings, such as the Minnesota BioBusiness Center, as well as One Discovery Square, a gleaming glass and steel four-story project with expansive common collaboration space that Mortenson, the Minnesota-based real-estate developer, is erecting.
Schad, director of business development for Discovery Square, predicts the district will ultimately be occupied by more Mayo labs and associated high-tech medical companies.
“I think just five years from now it’s going to look radically different,” he says.
The Discovery Square redevelopment district, about 30 percent of which is owned by Mayo Clinic, is envisioned to do a couple of things: First, to accommodate in some planned fashion the residential and commercial growth expected in Rochester in the next couple of decades. And second, to translate the medical and commercial innovations coming out of Mayo Clinic into commercial medical developments that benefit the Rochester economy and Mayo’s patients.
“It adds to the diversification of our economy. And it attracts investment dollars into Rochester,” says Schad. “So as an economic engine, you can take that innovation that is coming out of Mayo and spin that into companies that stay here in Rochester and grow here in Rochester.”
Discovery Square grew out of Destination Medical Center, a $5.6 billion public-private investment in downtown Rochester approved by the Legislature in 2013 to plan ahead for predicted city growth driven by the growth of Mayo Clinic.
“It’s essentially a public investment in the city of Rochester to support the growth that Rochester and the region will be seeing in the next 20 years,” says Schad. Rochester, a city of 114,000, is expected to gain up to 30,000 new jobs.
Mayo’s executive dean for research sees Discovery Square as far more than an expansion of lab space. Gregory Gores, M.D., says it’s part of a long-term vision for external cooperation.
“Every time Mayo has taken its science and medicine to a higher level it’s involved both innovation and collaboration. By thinking collectively, combining skills and resources, and working together we can translate better, more effective therapies into the mainstream and to more patients. We want to work with organizations in a spirit of team science to meet the unmet needs of patients everywhere.”
The key to Discovery Square’s success is attracting medical technology companies—whether spun off from Mayo discoveries or developed elsewhere—seeking close proximity to Mayo’s scientists and clinics.
“The number one question I get is what kind of access will I have to Mayo Clinic? What access to intellectual property? To key opinion leaders—physicians, researchers, surgeons?” says Schad. He says he can’t guarantee that a company in Discovery Square will be able to have a meeting with the chair of surgery, neurology, or cardiovascular medicine. “But I can ensure that they’re traveling in the same circles, put them in proximity—orchestrated serendipity,” he says. “You want to ensure that people bump into each other by giving them a compelling reason to come together in the same space.”
James Rogers, III, chair of Mayo Clinic Ventures, the unit in charge of commercializing Mayo discoveries, predicts that Discovery Square will produce “tremendous benefit” by attracting technology companies to the Mayo orbit.
“Having employees of companies not just visit our campus periodically but live and be vested in this community, coupled with the ability to collaborate across not only Mayo but with the other partners in Discovery Square, large and small, should lead to deeper and more productive relationships,” says Rogers.
The flagship of the district is One Discovery Square, a gleaming glass building of 89,000 square feet. Construction crews are finishing the space, and tenants will move in early next year.
The first are three Mayo Clinic research areas — advanced diagnostics, advanced manufacturing of regenerative products, and advanced biomedical imaging.
William Morice, M.D., Ph.D., head of Mayo Medical Labs and Mayo’s laboratory medicine and pathology, will move a portion of his organization to the new Discovery Square building to advance new diagnostic tests. One technology, for example, can examine thousands of genes in a single patient specimen. Another will translate pathology biopsy samples into digital images for easier storage, sharing, and analysis.
Moving the experimental diagnostic technology to Discovery Square provides distance from the day-to-day demands of the department, which performs more than 25 million tests a year. Mayo will also use the space to collaborate with outside groups on new medical tests. “The intent of the building, of course, is to be kind of a creative collision spot for Mayo Clinic’s existing practice and discovery with outside companies,” Dr. Morice says. “It’s good for them, too, because it creates for them a better go-to-market product.”
Also moving to One Discovery Square is Mayo’s Facility for Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing, which aims to develop therapeutic products that will encourage human cells, tissues and organs to repair themselves. The goal is to make parts of the body heal themselves and, in some cases, avoid the need for organ transplants. Among the products will be cellular-sized capsules that can carry payloads to perform biologic and chemical functions, and agents to deliver therapies into target tissues.
The move will consolidate technologies built in different labs at Mayo and help boost manufacturing quality, says cardiologist and researcher Atta Behfar, M.D., Ph.D., of Mayo’s Center for Regnerative Medicine.
“Centralizing the manufacture of these next-generation biotherapies ensures that we will be offering our patients treatments developed with the highest standards.”
The Discovery Square setting also promises to enable collaboration with companies involved in similar technologies. Mayo Clinic, Dr. Behfar says, has “a keen interest in instituting industry partnerships both from the standpoint of establishing ourselves as a unique biologics manufacturing center and to gain new insights into novel approaches and novel technology that we can then in turn offer to our patients.”
Finally, Mayo radiology researcher Matthew Callstrom, M.D., Ph.D., will be moving experimental imaging technologies into the new Discovery Square building, including ultrasound research and artificial intelligence (machine learning) technology. Machine learning uses computers to analyze and interpret imaging in a way that potentially is more objective and comprehensive than scanning by the human eye. An error in measuring the size of a tumor, for example, can spell the difference in deciding whether a treatment is effective or not.
The lab will also collaborate with a researcher from Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix who works with the MRI manufacturer Philips. “The development of new technologies, whether it be an imaging platform or therapies, requires basically a clinical perspective, what the need is, where the opportunity might be, and an industry partner that can build it in a way that is sustainable,” says Dr. Callstrom. “That industry partnership is critical to being able to make those next steps.”
The move to Discovery Square, with its mix of Mayo labs, business collaborators and university students, is “a real exciting opportunity to more rapidly develop solutions, to take things that have been discovered, that we know are promising, and then really to deliver that care to patients,” says Dr. Callstrom.
“Market forces will tell us if there is demand for a second and third building on that block, and then building on another block or another block,” says Schad.
Concentrating commercial medical development, intermixed with innovative Mayo Clinic labs, will make for a more productive campus, a more livable city, and in the long run, better patient care.
“Getting new innovation, new technologies out to the market faster or sooner is a good thing, whether its Mayo’s technology or somebody else’s technology,” says Schad. The result, he says, will be better care, lower cost, and higher value in medical care. “It’s a good thing, not only for Mayo Clinic, it’s good business. But it’s best for the patient.”
This article originally appeared in Mayo Clinic’s research magazine, Discovery’s Edge.
Interested physicians, researchers, medical students, post-doctoral and pre-doctoral students, as well as allied health staff, are invited to submit abstracts for the poster session on Friday, Nov. 30. First place posters in each category will be awarded complimentary registration for the 2019 symposium.
The deadline to submit an abstract is August 31.
Priority will be given to posters that focus on:
Discovery, translation and application
Mayo Clinic’s unique capabilities in regenerative medicine
Transforming the practice
Regulatory, FDA and manufacturing
A fee of $25 is required for each abstract submission. The abstract submission fee does not register you for the symposium and is nonrefundable. Those with accepted abstracts will be notified by September 30. If your abstract is selected, you are required to register to attend the symposium.
The major challenge in treating obesity is not just losing weight, but preventing weight from coming back. With a research grant form Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, Ping (Vicky) Chen, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic research associate, is studying a new treatment strategy using gene transfer therapy to safely target brain mechanisms that control hunger and energy output.
Dr. Chen’s previous research in mice found that gene transfer of a well-tolerated liver enzyme could revolutionize clinical treatment of obesity, making it easier for obese patients to lose weight safely and minimize later weight gain. Her pre-clinical research on the mechanism behind weight control will further determine if this approach might succeed in humans. Researchers expect the effects to correlate positively with reduction in ailments such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease.
A life-saving procedure improves fetal lung health and reduces post-natal complications
Specialists at Mayo Clinic are pioneering a life-saving procedure as part of a clinical trial for babies with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).
When a baby’s lungs are not adequately developed at birth, severe complications and even death can result. Waiting for the baby to be born to intervene may be too late. A new study is underway to document fetal lung growth from early intervention before birth.
CDH develops when a baby’s chest cavity is compressed and lung development is restricted because the diaphragm does not close completely and the abdominal organs push into the chest cavity. CDH is a life-threatening condition affecting 1 in 2,500 births.
The fetal endoscopic tracheal occlusion (FETO) procedure inserts an ultrasound-guided fetal endoscope through the mother’s abdomen or uterus into the amniotic cavity. The tiny scope advances to the fetal mouth and trachea, and a balloon is placed and inflated to close the trachea to promote lung growth. The balloon is removed in a similar procedure a few weeks later and before delivery. The minimally invasive procedure is documented in the June issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The study includes two cases of severe CDH and documents fetal lung growth and reversal of severe pulmonary hypoplasia.
One of those case studies is Xavier Sorying, now a healthy 7-month old baby. Before Xavier was born, his diaphragm — the muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest — developed a hole, resulting in CDH.
A team of physicians, including Rodrigo Ruano, M.D., Ph.D., fetal surgeon, and Denise Klinkner, M.D., pediatric surgeon, performed a FETO. The resulting pressure then expanded Xavier’s lungs and encouraged the growth of essential structures related to his lung function.
“The fact that we collaborated and had such a great outcome points to what Mayo Clinic strives to do, which is to put the patient first,” says Dr. Klinkner.
The study was funded by a grant from Regenerative Medicine Minnesota from the State of Minnesota. Dr. Ruano is the director of Mayo Clinic’s Fetal Diagnostic and Intervention Center and the division chair of Maternal and Fetal Medicine at Mayo Clinic.