Eye Cell Regeneration In Focus With New Mayo Research Spin-off

by Don Jacobson
The Rochester biotech start-up scene is getting a new member as a Mayo Clinic professor seeks to tap the commercial potential of regenerative medicine and stem cells in the battle against eye diseases such as macular degeneration.
Alan Marmorstein, a professor of ophthalmology at the Mayo Clinic Medical School, is the founder of LAgen Laboratories LLC, which was established last year. He is now in the process of raising $275,000 to launch the venture, according to documents submitted to the city by Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. (RAEDI).
The economic development group this summer sought and won a $100,000 loan from the city of Rochester’s Economic Development Fund for LAgen to retrofit a 3,500-square-foot leased commercial space on the city’s northwest side into a biologics manufacturing facility. The terms of the subsidy deal require LAgen to create at least four new full time-equivalent jobs within two years.
Marmorstein says he’s confident the new company, which until now has been basically a “bootstrap” operation based on stem cell technology he developed at Mayo, will soon be cash-flowing and contributing to Rochester’s quickly developing bio-business infrastructure.
“I’ve been in Rochester for three years now after living all over, and I can say that I’ve never seen a place that’s more supportive of start-ups,” he told TCB. “A lot of the credit goes to RAEDI.”
Marmorstein’s research at Mayo is focused on the goal of restoring or preventing vision loss due to common and inherited eye diseases and trauma. His studies include how mutations in certain genes cause inherited forms of macular degeneration; how pressure is regulated within the eye; and how some organisms regenerate their eyes in response to injury.
The regenerative medicine element comes in with the goal of developing new therapies that make use of “induced pluripotent” stem cells (iPSC) for diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. One promising way of doing so is through bioengineering new retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) cells, which, once they degenerate in the eye, can lead to severe visual impairment and blindness…….
Read more: http://tcbmag.com/News/Recent-News/2016/August/Eye-Cell-Regeneration-In-Focus-With-New-Mayo-Resea
Source: Twin Cities Business