Wisconsin Roundup: Okanjo, Arrowhead, Cellular Dynamics, & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Here’s a quick recap of recent announcements from Wisconsin’s startup and innovation community:

—Okanjo, a Milwaukee-based e-commerce startup, raised $1.7 million from previous investors, primarily local angels, according to TechCrunch. The company has now snagged $3.2 million total in outside money.

—On Monday, shares of Arrowhead Research (NASDAQ: ARWR) slid as much as 28 percent below Friday’s closing price of $9.06 per share, after the life sciences company announced that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration put a partial clinical hold on its planned Phase 2b study of its experimental RNA interference (RNAi) drug for treating hepatitis B. The stock closed at $6.90 per share Monday and has been trading around $6.50 per share today.

The FDA requested that Arrowhead start patients in the Phase 2b trial on a lower dose of the drug, ARC-520, than the company was planning. It also requested more information from the company regarding its ongoing single-dose Phase 2a study and its ongoing multi-dose non-clinical study, neither of which have turned up evidence of drug toxicity, Arrowhead says. The agency will send Arrowhead a letter explaining its thoughts and requests within 30 days.

Pasadena, CA-based Arrowhead’s research and development operations are located in Madison.

—The Water Council received a $100,000 grant from Wells Fargo aimed at helping commercialize new water technologies developed in the Milwaukee area, according to a press release. The first recipient of the money is Stonehouse Water Technologies, which is developing a compact water filtration system in The Water Council’s Global Water Center near downtown Milwaukee.

—Eight Wisconsin tech companies were selected to receive grants of $75,000 each through the SBIR Advance Program, a $1 million initiative backed by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the University of Wisconsin-Extension Center for Technology Commercialization, according to a press release. The companies include Madison-based AmebaGone, Insert MRI, Medical Engineering Innovations, NitricGen, Semba Biosciences, and Swallow Solutions; Radom Corp. of Hales Corners; and Black Creek-based Northside Enterprises. The first group of seven SBIR Advance companies were announced last fall.

—Madison-based Cellular Dynamics International (NASDAQ: ICEL) announced a partnership with Cord Blood Registry, a San Bruno, CA-based newborn stem cell bank. Cellular Dynamics will take cells from cryopreserved umbilical cord blood and tissue samples and reprogram them into induced pluripotent stem cells, which can replicate indefinitely and be turned into any human cell type, the company says. The idea is to create individualized cell lines that match a person’s genetic material and could be used in potential therapies down the road.