Minnesota’s “medical alley” leads in healthcare innovations

Image of Minneapolis skyline for article on Minnesota healthcare.

Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes, is home to the prestigious Mayo Clinic.  The 5th largest company on Fortune’s list, UnitedHealth Group, calls Minnesota home, and other global leaders like Mayo Clinic, 3M, Medtronic and Boston Scientific are headquartered or have major operations here.

Minnesota is known as Medical Alley – the #1 Health Tech Cluster in the world. It is home to the nation’s largest private health insurer and more than 1,000 health care technology companies. The Smithsonian has recognized six “Great Places of Invention” in the U.S., including only one for health care: Medical Alley.

Here are my picks for the top innovative biotechs in Minnesota. (Source)

Panbela Therapeutics, Waconia, has developed SBP-101, a proprietary polyamine analogue that accumulates in the pancreatic acinar cells due to its unique chemical structure. It was discovered by Professor Raymond J. Bergeron at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. Laboratory studies suggest the primary mechanism of action of SBP-101 is driven by its enhanced uptake in pancreatic cancer cells and, potentially, other cancer cell types, resulting in disruption of normal polyamine metabolism. SBP-101 is also taken up preferentially by the exocrine pancreas, the liver and kidneys. Importantly, pancreatic islet cells, which secrete insulin and are structurally and functionally dissimilar to acinar cells, are not impacted by SBP-101. SBP-101 has demonstrated significant growth inhibition of transplanted human pancreatic cancer cells in animal models.

Phenomix Sciences, St Paul, uses data-driven precision medicine to individualize obesity treatment.  They can predict how you will respond to different weight loss interventions through biological samples, patient assessments and machine learning.

Leading physicians from Mayo Clinic, Drs. Andres Acosta and Michael Camilleri, studied over 700 patients and found that obesity can be categorized as four different diseases requiring different treatments. We refer to these as obesity phenotypesHungry Brain, Hungry Gut, Emotional Hunger, and Slow Burn.Obesity phenotyping empowers providers to use precision medicine to individualize treatment, and was shown to double the amount of weight lost.

Tychon Biosciences, Minneapolis, is advancing precision cancer immunotherapy through a novel approach that transforms a patient’s immune cells into a “PAR-T” cell trained to find and eliminate cancer cells.

Despite its promise as a new cancer treatment, clinical adoption of T-cell based immunotherapy has been slow due to a variety of shortcomings. Our therapy delivers on this promise by addressing these shortcomings with a novel approach.

Our PAR-T technology can be used as a primary therapy or in combination with other therapies, opening up enormous untapped potential to treat early and late-stage cancers.

Their pipeline includes solid tumor breast and colon, cancer stem cells, leukemia/lymphomia and hybrid CAR/PAR.

Vyraid, Rochester, has created a new modality for the treatment of cancer.They have a broad portfolio of oncolytic viruses in discovery, translational and clinical phases of development.  The clinical program is focused on two engineered viruses: Voyager-V1, a vesicular stomatitis virus, and MV-NIS, an attenuated measles virus.  The clinical development program is designed to establish clinical proof of concept for oncolytic virotherapies as a monotherapy or in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

A series of Phase 1 and 2 clinical studies are ongoing in multiple cancer indications with both Voyager-V1 and MV-NIS.  These trials are being conducted in partnership with leading pharmaceutical companies and top medical research centers, including Vyriad’s founding academic partners, Mayo Clinic and University of Miami.

They currently have products in the pipeline for ASSLC, head/neck, solid tumors, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma and endometrial cancer.

OX2 Therapeutics, Minneapolis has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to launch a phase 1 clinical trial with its new combination therapy for treatment of recurrent high grade brain tumors for which no curative therapy is available. OX2 Therapeutics developed the first of its kind peptide OX2 Therapeutics receives FDA approval for a Phase I Clinical trial to treat High Grade Glioblastoma platform that targets the activation receptor of the CD200 immune checkpoint. The peptide activates the immune system through a mechanism that modulates the suppressive effects of the CD200, PD-1/PD-L1 and CTLA4 immune checkpoints to allow a more robust anti-tumor response. “This single peptide has the potential to replace the toxic antibody therapies that are currently used to block these immune checkpoints,” said Drs. Moertel and Olin. OX2 Therapeutics intends to initiate a phase I single center, open-label, dose-escalation clinical trial in adult patients with recurrent glioblastoma. This will be followed by a pediatric trial for children with recurrent malignant brain tumors based on its safety and pharmacokinetic profile.