Arrowhead, Accuray, & SKY Imaging: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist

Catch up on the latest happenings in Wisconsin’s innovation community:

—Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARWR) said on Wednesday that it had dosed the first patient in the next stage of a “Phase 1/2 study” of a drug aimed at treating chronic hepatitis B virus infection. The company—which is based in Pasadena, CA, but houses its research and development operations in Madison, WI—said that during the past three months, twenty-four patients have been treated as part of the study. The latest portion of the study involves “multiple ascending dose,” meaning patients receive larger quantities of the drug over time. The drug candidate is intended to complement another drug Arrowhead is developing for HBV patients.

Arrowhead was also in the news this week after announcing it kicked off a Phase 2 clinical trial for its drug candidate designed to treat rare liver diseases resulting from alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency. AAT deficiency is a genetic disease involving mutation of the gene encoding AAT. This can lead to the molecule getting trapped inside the liver cells that produce it, and ultimately to diseases of the liver and lung. Phase 2 will take about six months to complete, the company said.

—StartingBlock Madison hit its $3 million fundraising goal, crossing off another to-do item before breaking ground on a 50,000-square-foot startup hub. Half of the money came from the City of Madison; other key contributors were American Family Insurance, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., and Madison Gas and Electric. StartingBlock, which will be housed within a new, eight-story building called The Spark, said it’s hoping to open its doors in late 2017 or early 2018.

—Accuray, which is based in Sunnyvale, CA, but operates a manufacturing center in Madison where about 275 of its employees work, has ramped up production there, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The main reason these jobs are in Wisconsin’s capital city is that Accuray (NASDAQ: ARAY) acquired radiation oncology machine maker TomoTherapy in 2011. Accuray continues to assemble TomoTherapy’s machines at the Madison facility, as well as the CyberKnife, a similar model of device developed by the California company.

In January, Andrew Kirkpatrick, who oversees Accuray’s operations in Madison, looked back on the TomoTherapy acquisition during a panel discussion.

—Virent, a Madison-based company that’s developing biofuels aimed at replacing crude oil, was acquired by Tesoro (NYSE: TSO), a petroleum refiner based in San Antonio. The two had announced a partnership earlier this year, under which Tesoro would license Virent’s technology and pass along a portion of its revenues to the smaller company. Lee Edwards, Virent’s president and CEO, said he expects Virent and its 36 employees will remain in Madison.

—ConsortiEX, a Milwaukee-based healthtech startup whose software is designed to help users track prescription drugs as they move through the supply chain, raised $2.5 million from 19 investors. Some of the money will be working capital, and some will be used to grow ConsortiEX’s sales, said Neal Long, co-founder and CEO of the startup. One of the company’s main products is aimed at helping healthcare organizations comply with a law enacted last year in response to a 2012 meningitis outbreak in Massachusetts.

—More funding news: SKY Imaging Services, based in the Madison suburb of Cottage Grove, raised $100,000 from nine investors, according to a regulatory filing. The company was founded in 2014 and is not yet bringing in revenue, according to the document. Four of 10 directors whose names appear on the filing are listed as employees of Shared Medical Services, which is also based in Cottage Grove and provides computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services.

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