New Biotech Firm Setting Up in Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A new biotechnology firm, Molecular Metabolism LLC, born out of a relationship with Nuclea Biotechnologies, has chosen Pittsfield as its headquarters.
Molecular Metabolism is in the process of assembling its management team and is expected to create seven to 10 new jobs locally.
It is a development stage company focused on the discovery of biomarkers and therapeutic-based targets for metabolic syndromes and central nervous system (CNS) diseases. These biomarkers can aid physicians in determining the best, individualized courses of treatment for patients suffering from metabolic conditions, such as obesity, fatty liver disease and diabetes.
Molecular Metabolism and Nuclea Biotechnologies have established a collaboration with Joslin Diabetes Center, the diabetes research and care organization affiliated with Harvard Medical School, in biomarkers of insulin resistance and applications of imaging. The initial research in imaging will help identify "brown fat" in humans, a type of fat that drives energy expenditure and may potentially benefit metabolic endpoints.
Molecular Metabolism's collaboration with Joslin will assess the feasibility of using MRI and Infrared thermal imaging to measure the mass and activity of cold-activated human brown adipose tissues (BAT). The partners believe that the results of this research will provide greater insight into how Type 2 diabetes is evaluated and diagnosed with the goal of screening new therapies that stimulate generation of brown fat. This work will be done with Dr. Aaron Cypess, assistant professor and investigator at Joslin Diabetes Center.
"Diagnostics and imaging techniques can make a significant impact on the detection and management of diabetes and its complications, and Joslin’s interest in brown fat stimulation and energy expenditure is an exciting area to apply this to," said Cypess. "We hope to advance our techniques to a stage where brown fat can be easily detected and quantified."
Patrick Muraca, interim president of Molecular Metabolism and president and CEO of Nuclea Biotechnologies, said, "Molecular Metabolism will collaborate with Nuclea in the research and development of the biomarkers. Joslin is a tremendous partner and I believe this research in brown fat imaging will help us as we work to create new tools for the treatment and diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes."
Joslin will also work with Nuclea Biotechnologies, under the direction of Dr. Mary Elizabeth Patti, assistant professor and investigator at Joslin, to apply proteomic analyses on patient cohorts in order to understand pathways leading to insulin resistance and develop biomarkers of risk of Type 2 diabetes.
"We are very pleased to be partnering with Nuclea to identify new biomarkers which could potentially be used to determine risk of diabetes and other metabolic disease," said Patti. "These efforts are crucial in the fight against diabetes, so that we can identify those individuals at the highest risk of disease, and also to individualize optimal treatment strategies."
Physical Therapists Cut Ribbon On New Adams Business
Lori Garabedian, to the right, teamed up with her former co-workers Shannon Yorke and Judy LeBlanc to open their own practice after North Adams Regional Hospital closed the office they worked.
After 17 years in the county, physical therapist and new business owner Lori Garabedian wasn't about to leave the place she has lived, worked and is raising her three children because her position was eliminated with the closing. Instead she opened the new practice and recruited her co-workers Shannon Yorke and Judy LeBlanc.
"I interviewed around and decided to stay in the Adams, Cheshire area," Garabedian said on Tuesday when she held a ribbon-cutting ceremony. "People are excited; they're happy that we're staying."
Owning a business is a new experience for Garabedian, who has worked the last 14 years with the hospital, but working with the state Small Business Authority, she was able to secure a business loan for the upstart costs. With that she shopped around and found deals on chairs from a Springfield car dealership that was going out of business, furniture from the Holiday Inn that is remodeling and updated equipment from a Pittsfield physical therapist that is retiring. She worked with business and medical consultants to to acquire the right licenses and finally on July 20 the new business took care of their first customers.
"It all came together at once," Garabedian said. "It's exciting, scary. You're taking a chance but I think it's going to be worth it."
Luckily, the office space needed only minimal upgrades before Garabedian moved in and now that the doors are open, Garabedian expects business to operate smoothly because the workers have already spend years working together and the patients are all nearby.
Keeping the business in town has earned Garabedian support from local officials. Board of Selectmen Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington and Christine Hoyt, representing the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, both attended the ribbon-cutting to show support.
"It's great to see businesses sighting here in Adams. It's a great community," Harrington said. "Thank you for choosing Adams."
The office is 2,100 square-feet inside of the historic mill that hosts retail and office space on the bottom floor and 60 apartments in the upper floors. The new business treats individuals of all ages for any type of physical therapy. The office is currently open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays will be for appointments only but Garabedian said those hours may change based on need.
North Adams Hospital Denied 'Critical Access'
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North Adams Regional Hospital has been denied its application as a critical access hospital that would have given it cost-based reimbursements from Medicare.
According to a report in the North Adams Transcript on Tuesday, the hospital's application was denied by the federal government because of its proximity to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. President and CEO William Frado told the newspaper that the government looked at Route 7 as a major highway, which puts the two hospitals closer than the cut off of 35 miles.
The hospital's parent company, Northern Berkshire Healthcare, had sought the designation to aid its financial picture as it struggles to emerge from bankruptcy and reduce its nearly $50 million debt.
"It would have been nice to get the designation, but our financial projections indicated that we'll be able to come out of bankruptcy as a stand-alone viable hospital," Frado told the paper.
North Adams Dentist Moving Practice to Inn
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Dr. Eugene Messenger is planning to expand his practice with a move to the former Jae's Inn on Curran Highway.
Messenger and his wife, Donna, purchased the vacant structure on March 25 for $700,000 from restaurateur Jae H. Chung. The practice's current building on East Main Street will be placed on the market with Steepleview Realty.
"The office is growing and I kind of a outgrew this place," said Messenger on Monday. "There's no parking, not even for my staff."
The Victorian building's historic status and close neighbors made it difficult to adapt it to contemporary needs such as parking, handicapped access and more office space.
"I love this building and I didn't want to tear it up to do what I wanted to do," he said.
Space shouldn't be a problem at the new place, which boasts plentiful parking, a first-floor restaurant and dining area, and an 11-room inn.
There's even enough room for the Messengers to move back into the same building as the practice. They had lived on the second floor of the Victorian and the doctor turned the space above the garage into a "man cave," he said. The couple, however, moved to a home on 15 acres behind Natural Bridge State Park some years ago. That property, too, will be put up for sale.
Messenger needs the space. He has 10 employees and eight chairs but his practice is growing by 20 or 30 patients a month. The move will allow him to add three more chairs and another hygienist.
Also coming on board will be his daughter, Annamarie, when she graduates in two years from dental school. After eight years of study, she'll do her residency with her father, who doesn't think he'll be too tough on her. "I'm afraid she'll be tough on me."
Messenger said he'd actually thought the inn would be a good place for a practice when he came to the city nearly two decades ago but never really believed it could happen. But when Chung put up signs announcing the closure last December, Messenger jumped at it — just before it went into foreclosure.
Renovations started Friday with Mackin Corp., JP Painting and electrician Michael Lescarbeau. The new office is expected to open around the end of June.
With a Walmart Super Center planned just up the road, Messenger thinks his high-profile location will help his already burgeoning practice — some 6,000 patients — to keep growing.
"I'm going to get so much traffic, it's unreal," he said.