Biotech firm ready to fire up new facility

A Los Angeles real estate firm has purchased the 492-acre IBM campus in Rochester. IBM will lease eight of the 34 buildings for its operations here.

A Rochester biotechnology firm is up and running in its new state-of-the-art $9 million headquarters on the former IBMcampus.

Vyriadwas founded in 2016 by Mayo Clinic researchers Dr. Kah-Whye Pengand Dr. Stephen Russellto develop anti-cancer vaccines.

The start-up recently moved from the Minnesota Biobusiness Centerin downtown Rochester into 25,000 square feet of space in Building 110 on the Rochester Technology Campus, the former IBM campus, at 3605 U.S. Highway 52 North.

An invite-only ribbon-cutting ceremony to launch the new location is scheduled for next week with Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugiaand former Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede.

While Vyriad’s team of about 20 employees is busy in the new offices and labs, work on the planned manufacturing facility is ongoing.


Vyriad is using viruses, such as measles and others, to attack cancer tumors. The two-stage process has the clinical-stage oncolytic virus damage the tumor and then "wake up" a patient’s immune system to finish destroying the cancer.

While it is years before Vyriad could have a product or therapy on the market, the Rochester facility will produce the specialized viruses used in the clinical trials needed before becoming approved for general use. Once a therapy is approved, Vyriad would need a much larger manufacturing site to make it for commercial use.

The $9 million in convertible note financing to finance the new facility included participation by Mayo Clinic, Rochester Area Economic Development Inc.,the Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund LLCand a Korea-based venture firm. In addition, a total of $370,000 in funding is committed for equipment: $270,000 by the state of Minnesota, and $100,000 by the City of Rochester.

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