Business briefs

Marsh McLennan buys division

MARLBORO — Marsh McLennan Agency LLC, a subsidiary of insurance broker Marsh Inc., has acquired the employee benefits division of Kaeding, Ernst Company, a Marlboro-based employee benefits, life insurance and financial planning consulting firm. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, according to a release from Marsh McLennan.

The division, with approximately $600,000 in annual revenue, will become a part of Bostonian Group, a Marsh McLennan Agency company.

The transaction is the second complementary acquisition for Bostonian/MMA, following the February acquisition of the Boston office of Kinloch Consulting Group Inc., the employee benefits division of Kinloch Holdings Inc.

Drug suppresses hepatitis C virus

SAN FRANCISCO — An experimental drug developed at Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories of the University of Massachusetts Medical School has been found to suppress the rebound of hepatitis C in liver transplant patients.

Results from a random, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase-2 study were presented this week at The Liver Meeting, the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, in San Francisco. The study found that the antibody, given to patients with chronic hepatitis C infection undergoing liver transplantation, significantly suppressed the virus for at least a week after transplant and delayed the time to viral rebound.

“The challenge for patients with end-stage liver disease from HCV is that a transplant is not a cure. Because the virus remains in the bloodstream, the new liver eventually becomes infected with the hepatitis C virus,” said Dr. Deborah C. Molrine, deputy director of clinical and regulatory affairs at Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories, in a prepared release. “These results show that a human monoclonal antibody targeting the hepatitis C virus can significantly reduce viral loads in infected patients who receive donor livers and moves us one step closer to clearing the virus so the new liver doesn’t become chronically infected.”

Health provider leases space

WORCESTER — South Bay Mental Health, an organization that offers mental health services such as counseling, has leased about 4,600 square feet at 548 Park Ave., according to the commercial real estate firm Kelleher Sadowsky Associates.

The space was formerly occupied by True Value Hardware and is owned by 540-548 Park Ave. LLC.

South Bay, which opened its first clinic in 1986 in Brockton, already runs a mental health clinic, adult day services and an early-intervention program for children in downtown Worcester. The new office will be used to help children ages 1 to 5 with developing cognitive and motor skills. It is expected to open this month.

James P. Cozza of Kelleher Sadowsky Associates represented South Bay Mental Health in the lease transaction. Carl Burwick and David Burwick of Glickman Kovago Company represented the landlord, Kelleher Sadowsky reported.

Occupancy 79% in downtown

WORCESTER — A recent survey by The Research Bureau pegged the occupancy rate of office space in downtown Worcester at 79 percent, down slightly from last year’s figure of 81 percent.

The bureau, which has been conducting the survey for 10 years, found that there has been a “clear trend” toward greater vacancy rates over the past five years. In 2006, the bureau found the downtown occupancy rate was 89 percent.

At least 21 of 75 downtown buildings surveyed have at least 10,000 square feet of office space available.

JocksandJills store opens

WORCESTER — A sports collectible store has opened on Shrewsbury Street.

JocksandJills Collectibles, which held its grand opening at 114 Shrewsbury St. last week, carries vintage and current sports memorabilia, jewelry and apparel for all the major New England professional sports teams. The store also carries art and collectibles of celebrities, politicians and Disney characters, as well as other unique and rare antique toys.

FSU deemed military friendly

FITCHBURG — Fitchburg State University was recently lauded as a military-friendly employer by a statewide veterans employment group.

The award nomination, made by the Massachusetts Committee of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, found Fitchburg State supported a third-year nursing student who served in Iraq by keeping her place in school, registering her for classes and tending to other duties that could have disrupted her studies.

Staff Sgt. Heidi Krupa returned to the U.S. in September. Rather than take some time to readjust to civilian life, she instead returned to Fitchburg State within days of her arrival in the U.S.

“It’s been a life-saver for me,” she said, describing the importance of resuming her previous routine as quickly as possible.

At a recent ceremony, FSU President Robert V. Antonucci signed a statement of support for the Guard and Reserve.



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